In addition to providing funding for bridges, highways, airports and other public structures and facilities, the recently proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan from the Biden Administration has committed major spending to home and community-based services dedicated to people with disabilities.
Michelle Diament of Disability Scoop has reported that the proposal, known as the American Jobs Plan, calls for “$400 billion in spending to expand access to Medicaid home- and community-based services for those currently on waiting lists.” The proposal would also “expand access to competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities and bar employers from paying people with disabilities what’s known as sub-minimum wage — pay that’s less than the federal minimum.”
In a statement, the White House said, “These investments will help hundreds of thousands of Americans finally obtain the long-term services and support they need while creating new jobs and offering caregiving workers a long-overdue raise, stronger benefits, and an opportunity to organize or join a union and collectively bargain.”
“The focus on caregivers and improving access to home- and community-based services makes good on the promises Biden made during his campaign for the White House last year,” Diament wrote. “The plan’s rollout comes just weeks after a group of federal lawmakers issued a draft proposal for a bill known as the HCBS Access Act that’s designed to eliminate waiting lists for home- and community-based services, strengthen the network of providers and bring other changes to the nation’s disability services system.”
Biden’s renewed push to fund infrastructure initiatives in the country — often promised by former President Trump but never actually delivered upon — is intended to not only help improve transportation channels and repair schools and federal facilities but also serve as a major new source of good-paying jobs in the country.
“It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago,” Biden said in a speech in Pittsburgh where he introduced his proposal.
In an interview with DisabilityScoop, Peter Berns, CEO of the disability nonprofit group The Arc, told Diament that he was “encouraged” by the plan and the areas it aimed to increase government spending.
“[I’m] pleased to see the value of people with disabilities, family caregivers and direct support professionals recognized and upheld in the administration’s bold American Jobs Plan,” Berns said. “The proposal is a welcome first step.”