Obama Disability Agenda and What Does it Mean? (Day In Washington Policy Podcast #34)

March 3, 2009
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Day in Washington Disability Policy PodcastEpisode Summary: During his campaign, Obama outlined his plan for people with disabilities in an 8-page document. After his election, that outline became part of his Administration’s Disability Policy Agenda. This episode is an overview examining President Obama’s Disability plan and what it means for people with disabilities.

Audio File: Day in Washington #34 (Obama Disability Agenda and What Does it Mean?)

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White House Disability Agenda

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2 Responses to “ Obama Disability Agenda and What Does it Mean? (Day In Washington Policy Podcast #34) ”

  1. admin on March 3, 2009 at 2:53 am

    Day in Washington Policy Update – Obama Disability Agenda

    INTRODUCTION

    Hello and welcome to a Day In Washington Policy Update. I’m your host, Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed.

    It has been an exciting few months. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama won the Presidential election. During his campaign, Obama outlined his plan for people with disabilities in an 8-page document. After his election, that outline became part of his Administration’s Disability Policy Agenda. This episode is an overview examining President Obama’s Disability plan.

    Before I get into the details of the plan I just wanted to also point out that President Obama has stated that he will sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

    The Obama Disability Agenda which is available at http://www.WhiteHouse.gov focuses on four areas:

    (1) providing Americans with disabilities the educational opportunities they need to succeed;

    (2) ending discrimination and promoting equal opportunity; and

    (3) increasing the employment rate of workers with disabilities; and

    (4) supporting independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities.

    Each of these agenda items obviously has a variety of ways they could be implemented and there is much detail involved. It is my intention to dedicate separate podcasts to each specific one. However, as this episode is an overview, it is simpler to offer a list of the policies rather than go into too much detail.

    #1 – Education – Obama’s Disability Agenda promises full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, support for early intervention for children with disabilities and universal screening, improving college opportunities for high school graduates with disabilities, and making college more affordable. An interesting addition the platform includes a comprehensive study of students with disabilities and issues relating to transition to work and higher education.

    #2 – Ending discrimination and promoting equal opportunity. Obama’s Disability Agenda listed restoring the Americans with Disabilities Act (which passed and was signed into law last year), increasing funding for enforcement, supporting the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (which also was signed into law last year), ensuring affordable, accessible health care for all and improving mental health care.

    #3 – Increasing the employment rate of workers with disabilities. The Agenda promises to do this by effectively implementing regulations that require the federal government and its contractors to employ people with disabilities, providing private-sector employers with resources to accommodate employees with disabilities, and by encouraging those employers to use existing tax benefits to hire more workers with disabilities and by supporting small businesses owned by people with disabilities.

    #4 – Is support independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities. The Agenda states that President Obama intends to do so by enforcing the Community Choice Act, which would allow Americans with significant disabilities the choice of living in their community rather than having to live in a nursing home or other institution, creating a voluntary, budget-neutral national insurance program to help adults who have or develop functional disabilities to remain independent and in their communities, and streamline the Social Security approval process .

    For those of you who may be wondering, the document was put together by a committee composed of people with disabilities, many of them with years of community-experience, advocacy-experience and yes, even Washington lobby-experience. Which overall, makes for a very astute document that accurately pinpoints the very specific needs of people with disabilities in this country.

    It has been exciting to see a President who has been willing to make concrete efforts to address disability policy. However, I would be remiss in my efforts as a podcaster who aims to inform and educate others about disability policy if I didn’t point out the fact that almost all of the items on the Obama Disability Agenda will be very very costly.

    For example: IDEA was originally supposed to be funded at 40%, something Congress has not done since the program began. This is in spite of the fact that advocates and supporting members bring the issue to the Hill every year. The federal government has not paid more that 17% of the cost of what is necessary to adequately support the education of children with disabilities.

    Another example is the Community Choice Act, which was scored by the budget office with a very high price tag. Although there have been hearings and most congressional members agree that independent community-based living is crucial for people with disabilities (and also older adults), the legislation has not moved forward.

    People say that initial cost shouldn’t matter and that these programs are more efficient in the long run. That doing the “right” thing is what is important, and that this is about the rights of people with disabilities. But, considering the current economic climate and the emphasis on economic stimulus and recovery funding, it is likely that some, if not many of these disability issues will be moved down the list of priorities. As to what happens after the current rush of economic-based legislations…next is Health Care Reform. Granted, some disability issues will likely arise under that legislation, but the word inside Washington has been somewhat skeptical. People are talking about health and health care…and somehow the word “disability” is not getting heard as a part of that agenda.

    What that means is that it is important that people with disabilities step forward and continue to play an active role in Washington politics. It means that a President who was willing to put disability on his Agenda will need disability support to make sure it remains high on that agenda and remains a priority. And not just for the Administration, but for Congress too. Make no mistake, there are tough times ahead and it will take the voice of people with disabilities to make a difference, just like I believe it was the vote of people with disabilities that changed an election.

    CLOSING

    This is Day Al-Mohamed with your Disability Policy Podcast, hoping that you stay well and stay informed. For more information about disability policy please visit: DayInWashington.com or call 206-888-6009.

  2. Herbert A. Considder on April 30, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Another issue with Home HEALTH CARE+24HR PERSONAL CARE is: Having a contract in WRITING before a PATIENT LEAVES to come home from wherever they are being DISCHARGED from, so the AGENCY cannot DUMP the PATIENT, leaving them STRANDED from RECOVERY! This is what happened to MY WIFE once before! Signed: Herbert A. Considder for LOIS!