Senate Clears Way for ABLE Act to Become Law

Unprecedented Passage Creates Pathway to Independence for People with Disabilities
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lutheran Services in America (LSA) and the Lutheran Services in America Disability Network (LSA-DN) applaud the Senate passage of The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The overwhelming passage of the ABLE Act through both the House of Representatives and the Senate clears the way for the ABLE Act to become law with President Obama's signature.

ABLE accounts will enable individuals with disabilities to live more fully integrated lives in the community and empower them to take charge of their futures without fear of jeopardizing essential long-term services and supports provided through Medicaid and other programs.

"We are thrilled that Congress passed this bipartisan bill that allows more people with disabilities to save for needed services and supports," said Mark Hagen, Corporate Director of Public Policy at Bethesda Lutheran Communities and convener of LSA-DN's Policy & Advocacy Team. "This is the first of many steps needed to give all people with disabilities a pathway to true self-determination and independence."

The bipartisan support for this bill has been unprecedented in this time of epic Congressional gridlock. Seventy-four Senators co-sponsored the bill, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the bill's Senate champions Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). In the House, 381 Representatives co-sponsored the legislation and led by a set of bipartisan champions, Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX).

LSA-DN has been a stalwart advocate for the ABLE Act in both Washington, DC and members' home districts. "The success of the bill is directly attributed to the advocacy of LSA-DN members and the advocacy of others who support people with disabilities," said Sarah Meek, LSA-DN's Director of Public Policy & Advocacy. In addition to LSA-DN's 25 member organizations, more than 100 other national disability organizations and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America endorsed the ABLE Act.

"As one of the largest networks of health and human services providers, we help people be more self-sufficient and able to live more independent, secure and abundant lives," said LSA's President and CEO Charlotte Haberaecker. "The ABLE Act is a prime example of legislation that helps people with disabilities to achieve these goals through financial empowerment. On behalf of our more than 300 members, LSA thanks the members of the House and Senate for their commitment to passing this important legislation."  

About Lutheran Services in America: Lutheran Services in America (LSA) is one of the largest health and human services networks in the country with more than 300 members that provide a broad range of critical services from health care to children and family services, senior services, disaster relief, refugee services, disability support, housing, and employment support, among others. Collectively, LSA members serve 1 in 50 Americans each year in thousands of communities across the United States and are open to all regardless of their religious affiliation or social or economic background. LSA is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). To learn more, please visit www.lutheranservices.org

About Lutheran Services in America Disability Network: Lutheran Services in America Disability Network (LSA-DN) is a nationwide association of Lutheran social ministry organizations, faith-based disability service providers and Lutheran professional supporting the needs of individuals with intellectual and development disabilities and related conditions (ID/DD). LSA-DN includes 25 organizational members that provide support to more than 150,000 individuals in 33 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, generating over $1.25 billion in revenue every year. For more information, visit http://lutheranservices.org/LSADN.

About Bethesda Lutheran Communities: Bethesda is a national support provider for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Bethesda offers a full spectrum of services for people with disabilities including residential and vocational support, faith life resources and community engagement. For more information, visit http://www.BethesdaLutheranCommunities.org.

For more information: Tania Hernandez-Andersen, 202-499-5846, 301-651-5243 or thernandez-andersen@lutheranservices.org.