The 'Sequester' Is Here. Now What?
NEW YORK (March 1, 2013) -- America’s most vulnerable citizens—people with autism and related disorders-- face a longterm loss of billions of dollars in services and supports as a result of the $85 billion federal spending cut –or “sequester”—announced today. The impacts would affect all people with autism regardless of age or range of ability, reaching into special education, housing, research and even employment support.
None of these impacts will be felt immediately; rather, they will grow more apparent and worse each day that the federal budget crisis goes unresolved.
- Children with autism may arrive at school in the coming weeks to discover their special education teacher or aide has been laid off
- Adults with disabilities may find their rental assistance checks reduced or eliminated, raising the specter of eviction and homelessness
- Scientists who have spent years researching critical breakthroughs in the field of autism may have to shut down their work, losing their jobs and depriving our community of the answers we need
- Adults who require federal support for employment training as well as transportation getting to their jobs may end up stuck at home, further contributing to the nation’s disproportionately high unemployment rate among people with autism rather than contributing to society as taxpayers
Autism Speaks joins in the bipartisan call for a quick end to the sequester as a means of reducing the nation’s budget deficit. We urge President Obama and the Congress to agree on a more discriminate approach that spares disabilities programs, which have already been subject to disproportionate cuts, from further reductions. With the prevalence of autism soaring, now is not the time to cut back the response in vital research and critical services.
Sequestration is an automatic, across-the-board spending cut in the federal budget designed to reduce the nation’s deficit. The $85 billion cut that takes effect today was the first in a series of annual cuts intended to reduce federal spending by $1.2 trillion by 2021, unless and until Congress and the President can agree on more targeted cuts.
Importantly for the autism community, the automatic cuts exempt Medicaid, supplemental Social Security Income (SSI) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits. However, the federal employees who administer those programs are subject to furloughs and cuts, which means in the weeks and months ahead checks may be delayed, hearings may be put off and disability claims may be slowed down.
The cuts were determined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within the White House.