January is already over and we are kicking off February with even more accessibility stories for your enjoyment (or frustration depending on the topic). This week’s stories mainly focus on policy issues that are changing across the US. Read on to find out what changes might be coming up for Medicaid, disability waiting lists, and how Illinois families will be benefitting from some helpful new savings accounts soon.

What Medicaid Changes Could Mean

DisabilityScoop tackled an aspect of the presidency that is at the forefront of many people’s minds – Medicaid changes. If you are disabled, take care of a loved one with a disability, or even just know someone who relies on Medicaid then this type of change could really impact your life.

While there are rumors swirling around a lot of the changes that may be made to healthcare funding, the article makes it clear that the option on the table for changing Medicaid could be really significant. Why would this be such an issue? Author Michelle Diament explains how The Arc’s senior executive officer for public policy, Marty Ford, sees the potential change, “Ford said that shifting to block grants could lead to eligibility changes, coverage cutbacks and longer waiting lists for Medicaid home and community-based services waivers, among other consequences.”[1]

None of this is official yet, but apparently President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway is stating that it will actually be a good thing because it will in theory do the following things, “…’cut out the fraud, waste and abuse.’”[2] Despite those seemingly helpful intentions, the potential move to a block system for Medicaid has a lot of people worried.

Learn more about the proposed Medicaid changes and what they could do for funding by reading the DisabiityScoop article.

Lack of Stadium Access Could Cause Lawsuits

Are you a Premier League soccer (or football depending on where you live) fan?  Well, while you might love watching the sport, a lot of people are finding themselves unable to watch their favorite clubs from the stands. A Guardian article reports that a shocking 65% (or 13 clubs out of the total 20 in the Premier League) don’t even have the minimum amount of spaces for wheelchairs that is needed to meet the current regulations.[3] Not just that, but apparently many of the club’s timelines to remedy this issue will not meet the League’s August deadline for improvement.

Since there seems to be a lack of compliance and in some cases little hurry to make the changes, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has made threats to take legal action against the league. However, many clubs seem to be working on improvement plans so there is hope that now that the issue has garnered so much public attention, things will actually get done.

Learn more about the regulations surrounding disabled stadium access and which clubs are facing the most scrutiny by reading the full Guardian article.

Newly Launched Special Savings Accounts

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Illinois Treasurer is planning to establish tax-free savings account to offer to people with disabilities. This is extremely critical because some families find themselves stuck in a gap between wanting to save money to support their needs while still desperately needing to qualify for benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.[4]

Chicago Tribune reporter Haley BeMiller describes why these accounts are so critical, “The accounts are designed to give people the flexibility to save money without jeopardizing state and federal benefits that are limited by income. According to Frerichs’ office, an ABLE account can grow to up to $100,000 before Social Security benefits are suspended.”[5] According to the article, the cap is now at $2,000 so this will be a huge improvement.

Families who are impacted by disability often get hit with unexpected and hefty financial burdens. Whether it’s a new procedure, a change in medication, or a different type of equipment that is needed – everything adds up quickly. It’s really helpful to be able to have a bit of a cushion for people to fall back on when they need it. These accounts will help people to anticipate and navigate the unexpected without making a potentially unpleasant situation a huge disaster.

Find out more about these special accounts by reading the full Chicago Tribune article. You can also learn the specifics of the program and discover whether or not you might qualify by visiting the National ABLE Alliance site.

Which stories piqued your interest this week? Are there any specific events or policy changes that you are paying particular attention to these days? Share your thoughts and links to the stories you care the most about in the comments below.