I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
With the Presidential debates approaching, I thought I would share 5 questions for Federal Candidates on issues that affect individuals with disabilities. The questions were put together by the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (http://www.wi-bpdd.org/) and the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition (http://www.disabilityvote.org/).
What will you do to protect funding that impacts quality of life for people with disabilities and their families in Wisconsin under discretionary programs including early childhood, special education, job training and transportation programs?
Key Wisconsin Fact: Approximately 119,262 or 13.7% of all students in Wisconsin schools receive special education services that rely on federal dollars. Federal grants for public transportation help people with disabilities access public transit, get to work and receive support from care providers.
What are your plans to strengthen the Medicaid program and protect against cuts? Specifically, how would you ensure that Wisconsin persons with disabilities now eligible for Medicaid will continue to receive the same level of services as are currently available?
Key Wisconsin Fact: 1.1 million state residents are served by Wisconsin's Medicaid-related programs. Approximately 202,624 residents access Medicaid because they are a person with a disability. In Wisconsin, Medicaid dollars fund card services, personal care Katie Beckett, BadgerCare and other programs and supports.
What are your plans to address the mounting federal debt in a way that enables our nation to meet the critical needs of vulnerable people with disabilities and their families? Do you support a balanced approach that includes both spending reductions and increased revenues?
Key Wisconsin Fact: Further cuts to entitlement and discretionary programs such as education, Social Security and Medicaid without a balance of added revenue will jeopordize the safety net for Wisconsiites with disabilities.
How would you address the growing need for long-term services and supports? How specifically will you protect the investments Wisconsin has made in community-based supports such as Family Care, that provide an entitlement to supports and keep people out of costly institutions?
Key Wisconsin Fact: During 2010, more than 44,500 Wisconsin adults with disabilities and elders received support from one of Wisconsin's long-term care programs. Community supports are estimated at $100/day while institutions can cost more than $800/day. Community-based long-term supports provide help with meals, dressing, medications and community participation, including employment.
What are your ideas for addressing the serious and long-standing high unemployment rate for people with disabilities, who largely live in poverty?
Key Wisconsin Fact: The national employment rate for people with disabilities is 19.9%, compared to 69.2% in the general population. Currently, only 9-14% of Wisconsin residents in the publicly-funded long-term care system are competitively employed. Do you support the concept of Employment First (http://www.apse.org/docs/Revised%20Employment%20First%20paper%20709%5B1%5D.pdf) which prioritizes employment as the first and preferred outcome for all working age citizens with disabilitieswhen they are receiving public supports?
I have sent these questions to both Presidental Candidates. If/when I get a response, I will be sure to pass along the information
Later this week, I have questions for our State Candidates