Medicaid Cuts Threaten Our Community

United States Capitol BuildingDear friends,

Recent media has focused on how Russia may have impacted the election and the voting process, one of the cornerstones of our democracy. As we share concerns about threats from others, we must be equally concerned about threats from within.

A very serious threat that requires your immediate attention and action is proposed changes to Medicaid funding. By June 30, the Senate is expected to vote on legislation to significantly alter and reduce services provided through the Medicaid program. This proposed reduction will drastically affect the lives of individuals with disabilities, impacting their access to the basic liberties of Americans. 

At risk are Medicaid services that provide essential supports, including Home and Community Based Services. These allow individuals to access the workplace, purchase and prepare meals and engage with fellow community members. All of these everyday activities may be threatened by the proposed cuts.

Now is the time to act to protect these liberties. I implore you to call your elected representatives to share the devastating impact that cuts to Medicaid would have on your family and your community. To find contact information for your representative, click here. Senators outside of Illinois also need to hear our voices, particularly in Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. If you know anyone in these states, encourage them to call their Senators to support Medicaid.

Thank you for joining with us to protect the futures of individuals with disabilities.

Sincerely,

Ann C. Sickon
Executive Director
Center for Independent Futures

 

To learn more about the proposed bill, view information from the Arc of the United States by clicking here.

Click here to read a letter from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law about the damages these cuts will cause in communities.

Sign On to Improve Paratransit Services

Photo of Pace transit busGetting around the community is essential to a full life. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures the existence of paratransit to supplement accessible public transportation, providing individualized rides without fixed routes or schedules. Unfortunately, these services don’t allow the same flexibility as other methods of transportation.

“The way the system is currently designed, you have to call 24 hours ahead for next-day service,” Stephen Hiatt-Leonard explains. “Persons who are certified to use the service have to plan their schedules around transportation. There is no spontaneity in their lives.”

Stephen, a student at Southern Illinois University, is working to change these problems to give individuals with disabilities access to the transportation they need to take advantage of daily opportunities. He created a petition directed at Pace Suburban Bus, which oversees paratransit services in Chicagoland.

To support Stephen’s campaign to improve these transportation services, click here to sign his petition on Change.org. Read on below for a letter from Stephen about why this change is so important to individuals with disabilities.

Hello,

My name is Stephen Hiatt-Leonard. I’m a senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale currently majoring in rehabilitation services. I’m also an ADA Pace Paratransit user.

I came to the realization this summer that ADA Paratransit does not give individuals with disabilities who are eligible for the service the flexibility to do things with their friends or at a moment’s notice – because we have to call 24 hours in advance for next-day service.

It is my goal to change that and have ADA Paratransit services available the same day clients call for reservations. The Southern Illinois University Carbondale paratransit system has something similar to this where we can call 24 hours or 1-2 hours for same-day service.

My paratransit work began at SIU, where the paratransit system did not serve students well. As a Senator for students with disabilities in the Undergraduate Student Government, I worked with administration to correct the problem. In a year, we had a new paratransit system in place.

Next, on to Chicago and Pace. There is a lot of work to do to make Pace more user-friendly. I began a petition on Change.org and am currently accepting signatures. The major change is to make the service more accessible to passengers through the ability to call and be picked up in a short period of time, like an hour, rather than making a reservation the day before. The current system limits the ability to make and keep last-minute appointments, to interact in the community as others are able to do, and to be spontaneous. This update is not going to happen quickly, but my hope is that eventually we will be able to see the change.

Stephen Hiatt-Leonard

Evanston, Ill.
Student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Rehabilitation Services program at the Rehabilitation Institute

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