Although many have balked at President Joe Biden’s proposed $6 trillion budget, the Disability and IDD community is excited to see these much-needed resources be put aside for the needs of their members. Part of Biden’s most recent proposal to Congress includes the stipulation that $400 million of this budget be allocated for services allowing people with disabilities and older adults to live independently in their own communities, rather than in nursing homes or other institutional-like settings.
Younger Americans with disabilities will be provided for as well, with the budget signaling $16 billion to be put aside for services provided to students from preschool to high school, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This monumental increase of $2.7 billion is a huge first step into fully funding IDEA and creating a safety net for children and young adults living with disabilities.
Biden’s commitment to improving the lives of the intellectually and developmentally disabled (I/DD) community is nothing new. In fact, back in April when he debuted his ‘American Jobs’ plan he was quick to state that he wishes to provide a boost to the caregiving workforce and the people they serve. Indeed, a huge ethos behind the plan includes modernizing the American workforce, which means putting all Americans (disabled or not) to work.
Disability advocates nationwide, including senior director of public policy at the Arc, Nicole Jorwic are praising the proposed plan and its acknowledgment of the I/DD community. Although there is a long road ahead to pass this ‘wish list’ proposal, Nicole remains optimistic about the President’s commitment stating: “Given that in the infrastructure negotiations the Medicaid HCBS funding has been eliminated in every Republican counterproposal, that the president keeps reaffirming his commitment, including in the administration’s budget, shows the real understanding for this long-overdue investment.”
Only time (and Congress) will tell if Biden’s fiscal promises will hold water in the coming 2022 fiscal year. However, the disability community is invigorated to finally see the necessary attention, resources, and respect of the Federal Government directed their way.