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Idaho Advocates Hold Disability Awareness Day at the Capitol

Today is Disability Awareness Day at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise. (jorgen mac/iStockphoto)
Today is Disability Awareness Day at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise. (jorgen mac/iStockphoto)
February 23, 2016

BOISE, Idaho - Today is Disability, Awareness Day and advocates are holding their fifth annual informational fair in the Capitol building in Boise.

The idea is to educate lawmakers on issues affecting people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Carlyann McLaren, Awareness Day Committee co-chairwoman with the Consortium for Idahoans with Disabilities, says they'd like the state to pass a law known as the ABLE Act which stands for "Achieving a Better Life Experience."

It would allow people with disabilities to set up a 529-A savings account without being penalized in terms of their other income.

"This is where an individual can save money or family members can put money into this account for an individual with disabilities, and it won't impact the amount that they qualify for on Social Security," says McLaren.

Idaho has about 25,000 residents with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Together, the state and federal government spend more than $200 million a year on support for these individuals, according to the most recent (2013) figures.

Advocates for people with disabilities also want Idaho lawmakers to follow up on a report by the Office of Performance Evaluation that looked at the effectiveness of the managed-care contract for Medicaid clients with mental health needs. McLaren says services have been cut, both for children and adults.

"We’re trying to educate them on how it has negatively impacted," she says, "so that they have the right questions to ask when it comes before the Health and Welfare Committee.

The consortium is also praising the House Welfare and Health Committee for passing new rules to make it easier for people to choose when and where they receive care.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID