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AL GORE: FIGHTING FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES
Posted: 30 Jul 2000 19:43:25 -0700

 

 

Please reprint and distribute widely.
            
                        Justice For All

                        jfa@jfanow.org



      AL GORE:  FIGHTING FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES


Al Gore and the Administration have worked to increase opportunities for 
Americans with disabilities and they have demonstrated to all Americans that 
people with disabilities -- given access to the workplace, health care, 
community services, and technology -- make significant contributions to our 
society and economy.  The Administration has signed legislation into law to 
prevent people with disabilities from losing their Medicare or Medicaid health 
coverage when they go to work.  They have also developed a plan to bring more 
Americans with disabilities into the federal workforce, and have adopted rules 
to make telecommunications equipment and services accessible to people with 
disabilities.
	
CONTENTS

*	Gore Cosponsored the Americans With Disabilities Act

*	Gore Worked To Expand Special Education

*	Gore Fought To Make It Easier For People With Disabilities To Work

*	Gore Worked To Establish Presidential Task Force

*	Gore Fought For Quality Health Care Coverage

*	Gore Worked To Ensure New Assistive Technology Initiatives

*	Gore Fought To Expand Housing For People With Disabilities
GORE COSPONSORED THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT 

*	Gore was an original cosponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  
Gore was an original cosponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which 
prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.  The ADA 
protects people from discriminatory practices in public accommodations (including 
colleges and universities), employment, transportation and telecommunications.  


GORE WORKED TO EXPAND SPECIAL EDUCATION

*	Gore Emphasized the Importance of the Individuals with Disabilities 
Education Act (IDEA).  Gore proposed an additional $1.5 billion in the first 
year on special education, the largest increase ever enacted in the Individuals 
with Disabilities Education Act  to strengthen the federal commitment to help 
states and school districts educate children with disabilities while supporting 
other initiatives to help all students get the high-quality education they need 
and deserve.  This budget would provide an important down payment toward the 
federal goal of providing 40 percent of the excess costs of educating children 
with disabilities. 

*	Gore Supported More Funding for Special Education.  The Administration's 
Fiscal Year 2001 budget includes $6.4 billion for Special Education, an increase 
of $333 million, to expand on its commitment to improve educational results for 
children with disabilities.  It also included $290 million for grants to states 
to help ensure that students with disabilities get appropriate public education.  

*	Fighting For More Funding.  The Administration's Fiscal Year 2001 Budget 
also calls for a $9 million increase for grants to infants and families to 
provide intervention services to children with disabilities as early as possible, 
$8 million for states to help schools comply with special education law, and $10 
million to help schools implement research-based practices to serve children with 
disabilities. 

 
GORE FOUGHT TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO WORK

*	Gore and the Administration Proposed $1,000 Tax Credit for Work Related 
Expenses for People with Disabilities.   In the Fiscal Year 2001 budget, Gore 
and the Administration renewed their proposal for a $1,000 tax credit for work-
related expenses for people with disabilities.  This tax credit was proposed 
last year but not supported by Congress.  The credit would help workers with 
significant disabilities cover the formal and informal costs that are associated 
with employment, such as specialized transportation and technology.  Like the 
Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, it would help ensure that 
people with disabilities have the tools they need to return to work by 
recognizing the extra costs associated with working.

*	Gore and the Administration Proposed Vocational Rehabilitation State 
Grants to Improve Employment Outcomes of Individuals with Disabilities.  The 
Administration's FY 2001 budget includes $2.4 billion, an increase of $60.8 
million, to assist State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies in improving the 
employment outcomes of individuals with disabilities.  A wide range of 
services is provided each year to about 1.2 million individuals with 
disabilities, and these funds will assist States to address the needs of 
this population.

*	Gore and the Administration proposed Increasing the Substantial Gainful 
Activity Amount.  In February 1999, Gore announced a proposal increasing 
allowable monthly earnings from $ 500 to $700 a month -- a 40 percent increase -- 
enabling Americans with disabilities to make the most of their abilities.  

*	Lobbyist for the Association for Retarded Citizens Welcomes Gore's Proposal. 
Martha Ford, lobbyist for the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC), welcomed 
the proposed change. "This is an important step, long awaited, and it will help 
a lot of people," she said. "It will make a significant difference for lower-
income workers who are severely disabled and need continued support." 

*	In July 1999, the Social Security Administration Increased the Monthly 
Earnings Guidelines from $500 to $700 Per Month, enabling beneficiaries with 
disabilities to earn more without affecting their benefits.  These guidelines 
are used to determine whether the work activities of a person with impairments, 
other than blindness, demonstrate that he or she is able to perform substantial 
gainful activity (SGA).

*	Gore and the Administration Approved the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.  
On August 7, 1998, the Administration signed the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), 
which included the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, helping to improve 
worker training and placement options for people with disabilities.  WIA 
establishes better links between the vocational rehabilitation (VR) system and 
the general workforce development system.  Job seekers with disabilities now 
have improved options for service through the mainstream worker training and 
placement system, and through the disability-specific VR system.  WIA also 
strengthens the Rehabilitation Act by giving increased options to individuals 
with disabilities in developing VR plans.

*	Al and Tipper Gore and the Administration Have Fought for Fairness for 
People With Mental Illnesses.  In June 1999, the Administration signed an 
executive order ensuring that individuals with psychiatric disabilities are 
given the same hiring opportunities as persons with significant physical 
disabilities or mental retardation.  Gore and the Administration called for 
parity for mental health and substance abuse coverage in the Federal Employees 
Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) by 2001.  Also, in 1999, the Administration 
held a landmark conference on mental health to raise awareness and break 
down barriers for people with mental illness.  In addition, the Administration 
fought for the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 that took steps to eliminate 
disparities between physical and mental illness.  

*	Gore and the Administration Enacted the Ticket to Work and Work 
Incentives Improvement Act.  The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement 
Act of 1999 (TWWIIA) is a historic bill the Administration signed into law that 
will help provide better health care options for people with disabilities who 
work.  TWWIIA will improve employment opportunities by: creating new options and 
incentives for states to offer a Medicaid buy-in for workers with disabilities; 
extending Medicare coverage for an additional 4  years for people on disability 
insurance who return to work; creating a $250 million Medicaid buy-in demonstration 
to help people whose disabilities have not yet progressed so far that they cannot 
work; and enhancing employment-related services for people with disabilities 
through the new "Ticket to Work" Program.

*	Gore and the Administration Launched an Outreach Campaign to Help Americans 
with Disabilities Start Their Own Businesses.  Working with the Small Business 
Administration, the Administration launched an outreach campaign to provide greater 
access to entrepreneurial development programs, financial assistance incentives, 
and government contracting opportunities, including the Section 8(a) program, HUB 
Zones, and the small disadvantaged business program. 

*	Directed the Office of Personnel Management to Develop a Plan for Increasing 
the Federal Government's Hiring of People With Disabilities.  This past May, OPM 
unveiled their plan, and federal agencies are currently implementing the plan to 
involve more students with disabilities in federal internship programs, give 
employees with disabilities options to enhance their leadership skills and 
advance their careers, and recruit more people with disabilities at all levels 
of the federal workforce. 

*	Funded a Disability Research Institute.  Increased resources will allow the 
Social Security Administration to help provide information on Social Security and 
Supplemental Security Income disability policy, including ways to assess work 
ability and return-to-work strategies.


GORE WORKED TO ESTABLISH PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE  

*	Gore and the Administration Established the Task Force on Employment of 
Adults with Disabilities.  In March 1998, the Clinton-Gore Administration created 
the Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities, charged with creating 
a national policy to bring adults with disabilities into gainful employment at 
a rate that is as close as possible to that of the general adult population.  
Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman chairs the Task Force and Tony Coelho, 
Chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, 
serves as Vice Chair.  The Task Force has the broad mandate to examine programs 
and policies related to employment of adults with disabilities, and to determine 
what changes are necessary to remove barriers inhibiting people with disabilities 
from achieving economic independence.

*	Implemented every Task Force recommendation.  Al Gore accepted the Task 
Force's first report, Re-charting the Course, in December 1999, and the Clinton-Gore 
Administration has taken action on every single one of its formal recommendations.  


GORE FOUGHT FOR QUALITY HEALTH CARE COVERAGE

*	Gore and the Administration Proposed Extending Medicare Access for People 
with Disabilities Who Work.  The Administration's FY 2001 budget builds on 
achievements enacted in the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act 
to ensure that individuals with disabilities have full opportunity to participate 
in and contribute to our growing economy.  Gore and the Administration have 
proposed removing the currents limits on Medicare coverage for people with 
disabilities who return to work, giving individuals with disabilities lifetime 
access to Medicare.

*	Gore is Working to Expand Medicaid for People with Disabilities.  Vice 
President Gore believes we should strengthen Medicaid by making it easier for 
states to expand coverage to home and community-based services.  To eliminate 
Medicaid's historical bias towards nursing homes, Gore would enable states to 
expand their programs to cover community based care as well as nursing home 
residents with income up to 300 percent of the Social Security Income (SSI) 
limits, without requiring a complicated and frequently time-consuming Federal 
waiver. 

*	Gore Fought for a Strong, Enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights for All 
Americans.  Al Gore has been an advocate for a Patients' Bill of Rights to 
ensure that people insured by HMOs get the health care they need, when they 
need it.  He has called for granting patients the right to appeal a denial of 
treatment to an outside review board, improving access to specialists, and 
guaranteeing coverage of emergency room treatment.  The Washington Post reported 
that "Gore has been an outspoken advocate of the Patients' Bill of Rights." 

*	Gore and the Administration are Fighting for Long Term Care Needs.  
In January, the Administration announced a proposal to invest $28 billion over 
10 years to support families with long-term care needs.  This proposal would 
provide families with long-term care needs with a $3,000 tax credit, establish 
a Family Caregivers Program, and improve Medicaid eligibility for home- and 
community-based care.  The proposal also encouraged partnerships between low-
income housing for the elderly and Medicaid to promote home-based long term 
care.  Finally, the proposal called on the government to offer high quality 
long-term care insurance to federal employees as a model for the private 
sector.  


GORE WORKED TO ENSURE NEW ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVES 

*	Gore and the Administration Proposed Increasing Assistive Technology 
Initiatives.  The Administration's FY 2001 budget includes $100 million 
(a $13.5 million increase) for disability and technology research at the 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).  NIDRR 
will launch a comprehensive technology initiative which includes: $5 million 
for an Educational Technology Initiative; $3.4 million for a multi-pronged 
Employment initiative; and $5.1 million for a Community Independence initiative 
The Administration's request also includes $15 million to support grants that 
establish or maintain alternative loan financing programs.  Most people with 
disabilities do not have the private financial resources to purchase the 
assistive technology they need.  

*	The Administration Signed the Assistive Technology Act to Help Low-Income 
Individuals with Disabilities.  Technology is a crucial component in enabling 
people with disabilities to obtain and keep meaningful employment.  With the 
support of the Administration, Congress passed the Assistive Technology Act 
of 1998, which reauthorizes the "Tech Act" that created State Assistive 
Technology Centers to provide assistive devices to low-income individuals with 
disabilities.


GORE FOUGHT TO EXPAND HOUSING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

*	Gore and the Administration Have Worked to Increase Housing Options for 
Americans with Disabilities.  The Administration has worked hard to increase 
housing options for people with disabilities.  In 1998, the Department of 
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a statement supporting the view 
that institutional living does not constitute real housing for people with 
disabilities. On April 28, 1998, Fannie Mae published  "A Home of Your Own 
Guide," the first manual providing step-by-step home buying guidance for people 
with disabilities.  In February, HUD Secretary Cuomo issued a directive 
encouraging communities to use community development block grant funds for 
home modifications for people with disabilities.  HUD also included bonus 
points for developers who build structures that include "visitability" by 
people with disabilities. 

*	Increasing Section 8 Funding.  The Administration supported the inclusion 
of $40 million in Section 8 funding for people with disabilities.  This funding 
was designed to help accommodate displacement which could occur as a result of  
"elderly-only" designation of public housing formerly occupied by people with 
disabilities.

*	Helping Renters Buy Their First Home.  The Administration created a 
homeownership voucher program in 1999 that will allow as many as 50,000 families 
to use their Section 8 rental assistance vouchers to become first-time 
homebuyers. Under the new program, the same HUD funds helping pay a 
family's rent will instead be used for the family's monthly mortgage payments.

Read the Press Release: 
http://www.algore2000.com/briefingroom/releases/pr_0725_nat_2.html 
Read the Policy Brief:
http://www.algore2000.com/awdfg/policy_brief.html 
Read Al Gore's Record:
http://www.algore2000.com/agenda/americans_with_disabilities.html 

   

 

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