The 2021 Disability Policy Seminar took place the week of April 19th. Along with the great seminar sessions, constituents in Washington State met with their Congressional members (virtually this year) to share what they feel are priorities for the 117th Congress (2021-2022). Though many of the meetings were with staff, but we did meet with 3 members of Congress: Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers, Congressman Derek Kilmer and Congresswoman Kim Schrier.
Watch the recorded meeting with Congressman Kilmer here!
At each meeting, two main topics were covered: a draft bill, the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Access Act and the vastly out dated Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, as well as other issues.
The HCBS Access Act would get rid of the institutional bias for Medicaid services, among other things. Currently in Washington State and elsewhere, the state institutions (Residential Habilitation Centers or RHC) are the entitlement for qualified individuals with a developmental disability. If the person does not want that option, they can “waive” their right to that entitlement and apply for services in the community on a HCBS waiver. Unfortunately, there is a years-long waiting list for these waiver spots, with almost 15,000 people currently waiting. By making community services an entitlement, we would be able to provide services to every qualified person: no more waiting list!
A letter was written by some members of Congress, which you can view here, asking President Biden to update the SSI program. The income and asset levels have not changed since 1984! Some things requested in the letter were:
- Raise benefit levels above the federal poverty line;
- Increase the SSI asset limit and index it to inflation going forward;
- Update income exclusions and index them to inflation going forward; and
- Eliminate the marriage penalty and in-kind maintenance and support rules that
reduce benefits for those who receive shelter, meals, and groceries from family or
Make YOUR Voice Heard!
The Arc of Washington State is setting up constituent meetings with each of the Congressional members. If you would like to attend via Zoom, please send an email with your name, physical address with city and Zip Code (no PO Box) and the Congressional District you live in to Diana@arcwa.org and we will notify you when a meeting is scheduled.
Not sure which district you are in? Find out here: Find-Your-Representative
To share any concerns with your member now, you can email their staff at the links below:
- Kevin Chang Kevin_Chang@cantwell.senate.gov & Thomas Eagen Thomas_Eagen@cantwell.senate.gov for Senator Cantwell
- Sarah Mueller, Sarah_Mueller@help.senate.gov for Senator Patty Murray
- Kyle Hill, Kyle.Hill@mail.house.gov for Congresswoman Susan DelBene (District 1)
- Samuel Wilcoxson, Samuel.Wilcoxson@mail.house.gov for Congressman Rick Larsen (District 2)
- Adriianna Lagorio, Adriianna.Lagorio@mail.house.gov for Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (District 3)
- Aaron Larson, Aaron.Larson@mail.house.gov for Congressman Dan Newhouse (District 4)
- Karli Plucker, Karli.Plucker@mail.house.gov for Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (District 5)
- Leah Li Leah.Li@mail.house.gov for Congressman Derek Kilmer (District 6)
- Amy Fischer, Amy.Fischer@mail.house.gov for Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (District 7)
- Joe Aguilar, Joe.Aguilar@mail.house.gov; Alicia Bissonnette, Alicia.Bissonnette@mail.house.gov; Shanley Miller, Shanley.Miller@mail.house.gov for Congresswoman Kim Schrier (District 8)
- Marvin Eng, Marvin.Eng@mail.house.gov for Congressman Adam Smith (District 9)
- Lauren Meininger, Lauren.Meininger@mail.house.gov for Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (District 10)
Below are screen shots from the Congressional meetings this week:
- Sarah Mueller for Senator Patty Murray
- Kevin Chang/Thomas Eagen for Senator Maria Cantwell
- Kyle Hill for Congresswoman Susan DelBene (District 1)
- Samuel Wilcoxson, staff for Congressman Rick Larsen (District 2)
- Unable to meet with Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (District 3)
- Aaron Larson for Congressman Dan Newhouse (District 4)
- Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (District 5)
- Congressman Derek Kilmer with Leah Li (District 6)
- Amy Fischer for Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (District 7)
- Congresswoman Kim Schrier (District 8)
- Martin Eng for Congressman Adam Smith (District 9)
- Lauren Meininger for Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (District 10)