• Kelli Munn & Laura Minutello

Let's Get Busy: Self-advocacy in the New Trump Era


President Trump’s rise to the highest office in the land has certainly aroused strong feelings of all types in many Americans, including people with disabilities and disability advocates.

Here’s a recap of disability issues that have made headlines since the election.

  • The issue garnering the most current headlines involves the President’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). This story addresses areas of concern for persons with disabilities and this organization offers guidelines for reaching out to decision makers.

  • A related issue is the President’s and Republican Congress’s talk of delivering Medicaid via block grants versus funding based upon the number of people in need, which could negatively impact Medicaid waivers. More on that here.

  • A bright spot of hope related to the threat of major changes in Medicaid and the ACA was new Health and Human Services Administration Secretary Tom Price’s statement that any changes will not reduce benefits to persons with disabilities.

  • New education secretary Betsy DeVos was under fire throughout her recent confirmation hearings, most notably for her lack of experience with public education. Disability advocates raised concerns when she appeared unfamiliar with the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA guarantees students with disabilities access to a free and appropriate education. Then, on her first day in office, the IDEA website went down due to server problems, creating a mini-furor from critics suggesting she was behind its demise

When it comes to far reaching issues like these -- in light of the new political climate -- it’s more important than ever for self-advocates to speak out at all levels, such as . . .

  • When you talk to your friends: Keep in mind that President Trump won Florida’s electoral votes and while his national approval rating is low and protests to his policies are high, one should still assume that much of the population of the Sunshine State supports his promise to replace Obamacare and reform Medicaid. Yet, many, if not most, of your friends and neighbors do not realize services and insurance for persons with disabilities, like YOU, are provided through Medicaid. Raising awareness about how changes in these programs could negatively impact the disability community is absolutely vital.

  • Speaking to state and federal decision-makers: Self-advocates must stay informed and act when called upon. One place to start is to subscribe to FAAST's Access Action Alert, which provides actionable advice for advocating on the topics addressed above.

The most recent FAAST Alert offered these tips for dealing with the threat of ACA repeal:

  • Call and email your U.S. Representative along with Senators Nelson and Rubio today, 202-224-3121. Now is the time for ACTION, remember every call matters! Don’t let them take away health care and services for millions of people and replace it with a plan that CUTS Medicaid. Attend a local town hall meeting while your Representative is in district.

  • Call Governor Scott, 850-488-7146. Remind him what cuts to the ACA and Medicaid would mean for Floridians with disabilities and why they matter to you.

  • What to say when you get someone on the phone:

  • I am your constituent.

  • I am a person with a disability or I am a family member of someone with a disability or I am a professional in the disability field.

  • Do NOT repeal the ACA without a replacement that maintains or improves coverage and protections.

  • Do NOT allow restructuring and cuts to Medicaid to be part of an ACA replacement.

  • The ACA and Medicaid helps me/my family member to have health care and community based services.

You might also find the following general articles helpful for formulating a perspective on advocating for disability issues under the Trump administration.

  • Florida Self-Advocacy Central’s own, Jay Hahr, shares a fair minded and honest perspective on both the capabilities of and the obstacles facing disabled adults, imploring our Commander in Chief to take notice of and work with persons with disabilities in ways that benefit America as a whole.

  • Michael Morris, Executive Director of the National Disability Institute, shares his perspective on the policies that the government should and should not change in regard to various disability related issues.

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Florida Self-Advocacy Central is the news and information arm of Florida Self-Advocates Network'D or FL SAND

FL SAND and Florida Self-Advocacy Central are projects provided by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc., supported in part by grant numbers 1801FLBSDD, 1901FLSCDD-01, and 2001FLSCDD-01 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.