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Jeb Bush Announces New ADA Clearinghouse Toll-free Number, 1-877-ADA-4-YOU

ORLANDO–Governor Jeb Bush today announced the establishment of a new toll-free clearinghouse number to assist people with disabilities in Florida. The announcement was made at the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Working Group Conference in Orlando. The hotline becomes operational Monday, August 20th and will begin the process of providing easier access to information and services for persons with disabilities and their families.

Picture of Diverse Population“Individuals with disabilities deserve a more simplified way to access the services and information they need, and this new hotline is another step in shaping a disabled-friendly Florida,” said Governor Bush. “This toll-free number is one way we can improve the quality of life for Florida’s disabled by providing them with quick and easy access to information about the resources, health benefits and wide-range of programs and referral services available.”

Beginning next week the toll-free number, 1-877-ADA-4-YOU, will provide callers with information that is currently available in the clearinghouse database. The Governor and Legislature approved $250,000 to fund the hotline, which is being phased-in over the next year. The goal of the clearinghouse is to consolidate information on state and community programs for the disabled and to reduce the barriers they face in their day-to-day lives. At full implementation, the clearinghouse will offer alternative formats to assist those who are hearing, visually and/or speech impaired and a comprehensive automated database to assist citizens in navigating the often-complicated process of acquiring services and equipment to meet their specific needs.

Governor Bush is committed to making Florida a national leader in ADA compliance. Under his direction, the Governor’s ADA Working Group has evolved into a group of true representatives of the ADA community, rather than simply government staffers. Recently the state submitted a $3 million Real Choices grant proposal to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. If received, these funds will help disabled Floridians access the services they need to live and work in their homes and communities and avoid institutional care. The grant request results will be announced in September.

In addition, working with the Legislature this year, the Governor provided nearly $2 million in funding for a new “Ticket to Work” program, which allows disabled persons to pursue work opportunities and continue to receive Medicaid benefits. Under current law, if a disabled person on Medicaid returns to work and has earned income greater than $7,740 (90% of the federal poverty level), they will become ineligible for Medicaid benefits. Under the “Ticket to Work” program in Florida, individuals could earn up to $21,475 (250% of the federal poverty level) annually, and still receive Medicaid benefits.

Since taking office, Governor Bush and the Legislature have increased funding for persons with developmental disabilities by $377 million, a 74 percent increase. These funds are sufficient to serve over 41,000 developmentally disabled Floridians. When Governor Bush took office, fewer than 10,000 developmentally disabled had their needs fully met by our developmental services program.

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