Uncertainty surrounds Biden plan to boost disability services

Disability advocates are fighting to keep the investment in Medicaid waivers alive while President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan to expand the nation’s social safety net is in danger of being cut. Biden acknowledged this week that his spending plan would be slashed by at least a trillion dollars after Democrats were unable to secure enough support to pass the measure.

The plan includes Biden’s proposal earlier this year to invest $400 billion in Medicaid home and community-based services. The money would go toward two major undertakings — getting people with disabilities off of waiting lists for Medicaid waiver services and bolstering the workforce of direct support professionals.

Already, the U.S. House of Representatives cut spending on the home and community-based services proposal (also known as the reconciliation bill) by more than half to $190 billion. Advocates said that number would be inadequate to increase access to services and address workforce issues and they were pressing for more. But now they fear that funding for home and community-based services could get scrapped from the bill altogether.

“We are still pushing for the full $400 (billion) but know it will be cut. I am very worried about it being cut out entirely,” Kim Musheno, vice president of public policy at the Autism Society of America, told Disability Scoop. “With almost 1 million on waiting lists nationwide, we need to keep up the pressure on senators about the importance of building the infrastructure for home and community-based services.”

On Wednesday, a coalition of 16 disability, aging and caregiver orga