Friday, December 8, 2017

Action Alert: Call In Day on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017

ACTION ALERT in bold white letters on a dark red background

This Action Alert is based on information from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the Center for Public Representation ...

Join people with disabilities, our families, and advocates around the country on Monday, December 11th, for a national call-in day to oppose the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).
The Senate and House have each passed versions of the TCJA and the bill is in a conference committee to come up with the final bill. THIS IS OUR LAST CHANCE TO MAKE OUR OPPOSITION HEARD TO THIS #TaxOnDisability
This bill will hurt people with disabilities.
* It dramatically cuts the revenue needed to fund Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, housing, and other services that benefit people with disabilities.

* The over $1 trillion cut in revenue is the “pay for” for tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.

* Members of Congress who support this bill have already said that they next plan to make cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and other programs on which people with disabilities rely to address the increased deficit caused by this bill.

* The bills themselves have provisions that directly hurt people with disabilities. It eliminates tax deductions and credits that help people with disabilities pay for high medical expenses, work, access housing, and get medication.

* It repeals the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that everyone have health insurance. This will cause premiums for people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions to increase, leaving heath insurance unaffordable for millions. 
Help us send a loud and clear message that this legislation is unacceptable!

After you call: email, write, or tweet!
You can RSVP and invite friends using the Facebook event.
You can find a list of Congress members to contact here.
Note that Representative Elise Stefanik is on this list. She voted "No" on the original House bill, and needs to hear again the issues with the bill now, especially how it would affect people with disabilities.
Elise Stefanik @RepStefanik
DC: (202) 225-4611 
Glens Falls (518) 743-0964 
Plattsburgh (518) 561-2324 
Watertown (315) 782-3150
Additional Resources

Fact Sheet: How to Call Your Elected Officials (Autistic Self Advocacy Network)
Event Sponsors

American Association of People with Disabilities
Autism Society
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Center for American Progress Action Fund
Center for Public Representation
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
Justice in Aging
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Council on Independent Living
National Disability Rights Network
National Down Syndrome Congress
National Health Law Program

Monday, December 4, 2017

Action Alert: Last Chance to Stop the Dangerous Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

ACTION ALERT in white bold letters over a dark red background
Update on the original Action Alert below, from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities:

As we emailed over the weekend, it is critical that we keep up the advocacy against the tax bill with the House. The report that we got from the Hill this morning is that targets in the House were pounded with opposition to the bill over the weekend.  Keep it up! Re timing of the bill, we know that a vote in the House is scheduled for 6 pm today.  While the intel we are getting is that the vote is likely going to be to set up a conference, it still is possible that the House could just vote to accept the Senate bill.  And the timing of a conference is complicated by the other work that Congress needs to do this week to keep the government open.  We'll be sending another update late today.

In case it is helpful to your advocacy, here is the CCD fact sheet on the worst impacts of the tax bill on people with disabilities; here is a link to call, email, and with talking points; and here is a recent alert from AAPD with lots of resources.

CCD Fiscal Policy Task Force

==========

This Action Alert comes from the American Association of People with Disabilities:

Early Saturday morning (around 2am Eastern Time), the Senate passed their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This vote in the middle of the night left little to no time for other Members of Congress and the general public to review the content of the bill. Since the House of Representatives passed their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) in mid-November, the House and Senate must now reconcile their versions of the bill. This is expected to happen in Conference Committee starting today. It is also possible that the House will pass the Senate’s version of the bill as is.

Either way, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is very close to reaching President Trump’s desk and becoming law. NOW is the time to call your Representative and tell them to OPPOSE this dangerous bill!

The Senate tax bill is extremely dangerous to the well-being of people with disabilities.
  • Tax cuts open the door for cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income, and other services that benefit people with disabilities. While neither the House nor Senate tax bill includes direct cuts to these services, cuts are expected to follow to offset the $1.5 trillion added to the deficit due to providing large tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Medicaid and other disability services were the target of intense cuts over the summer through the various Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bills proposed in the House and Senate. There is no doubt that these same services remain on the chopping block to help pay for the proposed tax cuts.
  • The Senate bill eliminates the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate. The individual mandate helps make health insurance affordable. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 13 million people would lose access to affordable coverage by 2027 if the individual mandate were eliminated. Furthermore, insurance premiums would rise by 10%, which amounts to an increase of hundreds of dollars per year for nearly 7 million middle-income Americans and by over $1,000 per year for seniors, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
  • The Senate bill benefits the wealthiest Americans while the poorest would be worse off. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report which found that Americans earning less than $100,000 a year would, ultimately, not benefit from the proposed tax cuts. According to a Washington Post analysis of the CBO report, “By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to the CBO’s calculations.”
The House bill is also damaging as it proposes to eliminate several tax deductions and credits that benefit people with disabilities. These include:
  • The Medical Expense Deduction: This tax deduction allows people to deduct large, unreimbursed medical and dental expenses that exceed 10% of their income. Approximately 8.8 million people utilize this deduction, 70% of which have an income at $70,000 or lower. Most filings are around $10,000 by people with high healthcare costs, which largely includes people with disabilities, chronic health conditions, and other medical conditions. People are allowed to deduct expenses for a variety of expenses including treatments, surgeries, medications, and medical travel.
  • The Disabled Access Credit and Barrier Removal Tax Deduction: Businesses that accommodate people with disabilities may qualify for tax credits and deductions including the Disabled Access Credit and the Barrier Removal Tax Deduction. This credit and deduction incentivizes small businesses to make their businesses accessible for disabled people. Small businesses can claim a 50% credit per year for expenditures between $250 and $10,250 that increase access and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • The Work Opportunity Tax Credit: This federal tax credit is available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups (including disabled people who receive services from Vocational Rehabilitation, SSI recipients, returning citizens, veterans, and long-term unemployment compensation recipients) who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. The current tax credit for hiring a person with a disability can be as high as $2,400 for a business.
The final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could contain any of these harmful provisions from the Senate and House bills.

While neither tax bill includes direct cuts to Medicaid or other disability services, these cuts are expected to follow to offset the roughly $1.5 trillion added to the deficit due to providing large tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Medicaid and other disability services were the target of intense cuts over the summer through the various Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bills proposed in the House and Senate. There is no doubt that these same services remain on the chopping block to help pay for the proposed tax cuts.

Take Action

Contact your Representative and tell them to oppose this bill!

What to say:

  • Please vote NO on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • This tax bill will hurt people with disabilities and their families.
  • Tax reform should not be rushed. People should have time to understand the legislation and how they will be affected.
  • Services that benefit people with disabilities and low-income Americans – such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income – are in danger of losing funding to help pay for these proposed tax cuts.
  • Eliminating the individual mandate will reduce access and increase costs for people with disabilities and all Americans.

Call your Representative


Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Representative.

Email your Representative


Contacting Congress
 provides unique links to email your Representative directly.

Tweet your Representative


Twitter has become a powerful tool to communicate with elected officials directly. Find your Congress Members on Twitter and tell them to oppose these bills.

Sample Tweets to Fights Against Disability Attacks in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (developed by Access Living)

  • 8.8 million households claimed medical deductions in 2015. Eliminating deduction vital to people with high medical costs is a #TaxOnDisability.
  • Taking away medical deductions from seniors with greater medical needs, people with disabilities, and families with disabled kids is a #TaxOnDisability.
  • Average deduction claimed is close to $10K; cost of long-term care could be $100K or more. Keep deduction, no to #TaxOnDisability
  • #TCJA eliminates incentive for businesses to hire people with disabilities, including older Americans with disabilities. No to #TaxOnDisability
  • Current tax credit for hiring a person with a disability can be as high as $2,400; ending the Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a #TaxOnDisability
  • Eliminating orphan drug tax credit is a #TaxOnDisability. Older Americans and people with disabilities are more likely to have a rare disease or condition #TCJA
  • Eliminating small business tax credit for increasing accessibility to employees with disabilities, older workers, and customers is a #TaxOnDisability
  • The #TCJA may result in older Americans and individuals with disabilities paying more taxes on Social Security benefits.
  • If seniors and individuals with disabilities can’t deduct medical expenses, many may need to use tax-deferred accounts. No to #TaxOnDisability
  • #TCJA could kill investments in underserved communities that provide people with disabilities a place to live. No to #TaxOnDisability
  • Eliminating deduction of state/local income, sales taxes from federal taxable income would squeeze state budgets No to #TaxOnDisability
  • #TCJA could force massive cuts that block grant #Medicaid and damage state programs for people with disabilities. No to #TaxOnDisability
     
  • Tax Bill Disability Tweets – Center for Public Representation

Additional Resources

Sunday, November 26, 2017

#GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday logo, including a heart-shaped letter VTuesday, November 28th is GivingTuesday. It’s a growing annual tradition that follows Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday is dedicated to making online charitable donations.

This is a great time to give to NCCI’s Homecoming Fund, which helps people with disabilities make a smooth transition from hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions into their own homes. Click the link below to see more details and contribute to the fund through GoFundMe:

Click here to give to NCCI’s Homecoming Fund


By the way, it helps a lot if you can share your donation through your Facebook or Twitter accounts.  It’s easy to do right from the GoFundMe page.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Action Alert: Fully Fund Access To Home

ACTION ALERT in large white capital letters on a dark red background

Call Governor Cuomo today to ensure $10 million in funding for Access to Home
is included in the New York State budget!

Inaccessible housing is one of the biggest barriers for people seeking to live in the community. Unfortunately, our existing home modification program, Access To Home, has been severely underfunded at a mere $1 million for the past several years. This has left many parts of the state unserved, and has resulted in years long waiting lists. The Governor has also vetoed the Visitability Tax Credit three times, which would have provided a tax credit to help people afford to retrofit their homes. The Governor needs to hear from the disability community that he can't keep ignoring the need for home modifications!

Further, as the State invests in programs such as Open Doors and the Olmstead Housing subsidy, which are designed to help people leave institutions or prevent unwanted and unnecessary institutionalization, it needs to provide funding for home modifications to enhance these efforts.

NYAIL is urging Governor Cuomo to include $10 million in funding for Access To Home, to help homeowners and renters alike get the home modifications they need to live in the community.

All centers hear from people who need accessible housing. We need you to identify those people and work with them to contact Governor Cuomo and their local legislators.

ACTION:


Background:

Access to Home is an important program administered by NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) that provides funding for home modifications to allow people with disabilities and older New Yorkers to stay in their homes and out of costly institutions. For many people, the addition of a ramp to their front door makes the difference between being able to leave the house and being homebound. The Independent Living community advocated vigorously for the State to create Access to Home to help alleviate the housing crisis for people with disabilities in New York by assisting low and middle-income individuals and families to make home modifications. Yet, Access to Home was cut by 75% several years ago under this administration. Ever since, Access to Home has been funded at a mere $1 million statewide, leaving many parts of the state without the program and resulting in years long waiting lists. While the State did allocate $19.6 million over three years to the program in the 2015-16 SFY from the J.P. Morgan settlement funds, those funds were limited to veterans with disabilities. This meant that the vast majority of low income families who needed home modifications to remain at home, couldn't access them, despite the increase in funding to a similar program.


Further, in his most recent veto message for the Visitability Tax Credit bill, Governor Cuomo cites Access To Home as the way the state supports people who need home modifications. However, unless you are a veteran, you likely can't get assistance in a timely manner from Access To Home. Access to Home requires significantly more funding to come close to meeting the need of people in this state to modify their home to make them accessible.

This Action Alert is issued by the New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL).

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NCCI on YouTube

Have you visited NCCI's YouTube Channel?

So far, we have 6 videos posted about NCCI, and a separate list of 28 disability-related videos by others that are worth a look. Note that whenever possible, the videos we produce about NCCI include closed captions if you need them.

Click here to visit NCCI's YouTube Channel, or view our original videos below:

North Country Center for Independence Introduction




GoFundMe Thank You




#CuomoFails Protest: Albany, New York




CDPAP Presentation




Upcoming Changes in Clinton County Transportation




NCCI Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NCCI Social Media Review

​It has been almost a year since we started using social media more steadily to communicate with the North Country disability community, and with the broader network of disability rights organizations around the country. Now is probably a good time for an update on what we are doing and what you'll find in NCCI's social media. Click the links to check out these sites:


A visit to NCCI's website is probably the simplest way to connect with our other social media networks. From here you can easily get to our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts. The website itself also provides a good overview of NCCI's mission, services, staff, board of directors, and advocacy activities. There's also an online Calendar, and of course the NCCI Blog, which presents new information and action alerts at least once a week. Start here, and make the website a "Favorite" so it's easy to come back!

We add new posts daily, usually two disability-related articles or NCCI news items, plus some selected shares from other related Facebook pages. Our content is curated for quality and focus over quantity. You may not enjoy or agree with every item posted, but you can trust that it has been selected with care, for specific reasons related to disability issues and NCCI’s mission.

Twitter
 
We "tweet" the same items we post on Facebook, and also retweet selected items from other Twitter users. As with Facebook, content is carefully selected, and free of unrelated junk. Twitter is an especially active place for disability conversations. There is a growing number of unique disability groups and discussions going on exclusively on Twitter. Most disability organizations and disability rights leaders and thinkers use Twitter every day to explore disability issues. Twitter is also widely used by elected officials, (with varying quality and effectiveness of course), and by journalists. This makes Twitter a powerful meeting place where disability movements and organizations can raise our issues to the attention of traditional media and politicians.

There’s not much to look at yet, but we are making an effort to share more photos of NCCI activities. In the near future, we might also explore ways for the local disability community to share their own photos.

We have an NCCI introductory video posted, and a playlist of disability-related videos from other sources. We’ll soon be posting more videos profiling NCCI staff and programs.