Our congresswoman is good about having listening sessions throughout her entire district so she ends up in our town at least a couple of times a year. We do our best to make it to those sessions if we are able to. Usually we just listen and take the opportunity to introduce ourselves. It is educational for Gess and helps keep me aware of what our representative is up to. This time, however, I had an issue I wanted to address on Gess's behalf.
The ABLE Act (HR 647) which stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience, is a bill that would ammend the IRS tax code so that persons with disabilities could save for "qualified disability expenses" to pay for things such as housing, health and wellness, higher education, obtaining and maintaining employment and other important expenses without that money counting against their assets and causing them to lose their much needed medical and essential services.
This is not a bill that costs tax payers any money. We are not asking others to pay for these services, we are simply saying if people with disabilities want to work and go to school and live independently, let them. As it stands now, if a person makes too much money or has an account such as this, they would lose all their medical benefits and services. That is a choice people like my daughter can't afford to make. Right now she doesn't have the choice of real employment or saving for these expenses. She has a congenital heart defect among other issues that make these services essential to her very life. The problem is she wants to work! She wants to go to college! She doesn't want others to pay for it, she just doesn't want to have to choose between being productive and being alive!
The thing is, this bill has huge bi-partisan support. Out of 331 co-sponsors it is almost evenly distributed among democrats and republicans 171-160. My question was why, if this bill costs nothing and has this type of bi-partisan support, doesn't it get anywhere? Why does it sit and never get voted on and moved forward?
Hopefully asking these questions to all of our representatives around the country will finally get the ball rolling. Another thing you can do is sign the Pass the ABLE Act petition at change.org.
My daughter also wrote our congresswoman a letter that she presented to her after the meeting. Here is the letter she wrote. (Remember she is only 12)
Then we paused for a photo op!
I want to thank Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins for hearing our concerns. It sounds as if we may have her support and be able to get her on board to help us not only sponsor this bill, but move it forward.
I am proud of Gess for how she sat silently through that one hour meeting and then very graciously asked the congresswoman to take her letter. It certainly was made easier when Representative Jenkins went around and personally served us all cookies! Gess felt very comfortable and welcome after that, especially since she let her have two.
Gess has many hopes and dreams and I want to see those dreams come true. I don't want to see her grow up and have to tell her that having a job will be counterproductive to her health and well being. Please hep us so that everyone can truly have the potential to achieve a better life experience.