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President Obama’s 2017 Budget: Impact on Employment and Health Care for People with Disabilities

February 29, 2016

On February 9, 2016, President Obama and his administration released their proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017. The proposed budget includes funding to increase the number of people with disabilities in the competitive workforce and funding increases for programs relating to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. It also includes proposed increases in funding for several educational programs and administrative agencies designed to help people with disabilities transition more effectively into employment from school. For example, the budget proposes that the Department of Education’s Disability Innovation Fund (DIF), which supports educational projects aimed at transitioning people with disabilities from high school into postsecondary education or competitive, integrated employment, be funded annually at the same rate in the budget rather than be reauthorized at different levels of funding each year. The DIF has been used to fund the Promoting Readiness of Minors in SSI (PROMISE) program, which tests and evaluates educational and health care interventions that reduce the need for youth to remain in the SSI program. 

Regarding employment for adults, the President’s budget proposes to reauthorize the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program’s demonstration authority, allowing it to test changes to the SSDI benefit structure that might allow more SSDI recipients to remain in the workforce. It also proposes creating an Interagency Council on Workforce Attachment, which would better coordinate disability activities across the Federal government and encourage demonstration projects aimed at providing people with disabilities with supported employment. 

The budget also contains provisions that would increase coverage and improve healthcare outcomes for people with disabilities. It would expand access to Medicaid home and community-based long-term care services and supports, including supported employment. It also proposes a robust series of initiatives to strengthen Medicare by encouraging better outcomes for patients, and increases the number of quality health clinics by investing $5.1 billion in the Health Centers program. Additionally, it invests $8.1 billion in the Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), which help inform people with disabilities of affordable health care options they may be eligible for. The ADRCs also connect people to funding for other long-term services and supports, including employment services. The President intends to continue to invest in the Affordable Care Act, which often is the best source of affordable health care coverage for working people with disabilities who are not eligible for SSDI. 

For general information, read the President’s 2017 budget. For information on the President’s budget as it applies to health care and employment, read the Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities brief.