Monday, February 18, 2013

President Obama's Record On Disability

“Until every American with a disability can learn in their local public school in the manner best  for them, until they can apply for a job without fear of discrimination, and live and work independently in their communities if that's what they choose, we've got more work to do. As long as we as a people still too easily succumb to casual discrimination or fear of the unfamiliar, we've still got more work to do.”
                                 -President Barack Obama, July 26, 2010

SEATTLE (ESTRA) -- When injured in a car accident, what happens to those individuals who become disabled?  Is there affordable medical care? What about their jobs?  Is there legislation in place to help?  Where does the Obama Administration stand on these issues?  Let us explore them today.

We hear so many different versions of what has or has not been done by this Administration, it’s important to see what has been signed by the President into law, in addition to other actions which have an impact on the lives of those living with a disability, especially those injured in a car accident.  

Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States.  The White House Website describes him as:  “The American story — values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others.”

As always, the views and opinions expressed are my own, and have no association with the Obama Administration or writers of any articles mentioned.  This review comes from an injured and disabled person’s perspective, which may differ from others who see it from a financial, policy, political, or additional points of views. 

Let us begin with a few quotes from Breaking Down Barriers to Health Care for Women with Disabilities, A White Paper from a National Summit, dated December 2004, Washington, DC, Department of Health & Human Services.  Although these quotes concentrate on women, I suspect disabled men encounter similar circumstances.  However, typically having a higher income and socio-economic class, this may somewhat lessen the impact.   

“Women with disabilities face substantial barrier that limit their access to healthcare services including physical, attitudinal, and policy barriers, lack of information about how disability affects health, limited financies, and insufficient personal assistance.”

- White Paper  Identifying Barriers To Health Care: 
The Current Research, 
JoAnn Thierry, PhD, MSW,
Center for Disease Control and Prevention

“Women with disabilities are among the most economically disadvantaged, and this increases their risk of health problems.  As a group, they have lower socioeconomic status, less education, and are less likely to be married.”

 – White Paper, Barriers to Health Care for Women with Disabilities: 
Education of Healthcare Providers,
Margaret A. Turk, MD,
SUNY Upstate Medical University

“People with disabilities use healthcare services at a higher rate than people without disabilities, yet commonly express dissatisfaction with their healthcare.  They are susceptible to disparities in health care and experience widespread lack of appropriate accommodations”

 – White Paper, It Takes More than Ramps to Solve
the Crisis of Healthcare for People with Disabilities,  
Judith Panko Reis, MA, MS,
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

“Women of color with disabilities use fewer health services and continue to suffer more from premature death, disease, and secondary disabilities.” 

- White Papers,  Women of Color with Disabilities: 
Triple Jeopardy,
Sharman Word Dennis, Med,
Rose, Inc.

The life of many disabled individuals is fought with many challenges.  However, the rewards to those who overcome will be a joyous life and a pathway for others seeking to live with dignity and stability.  Just the opportunity to thrive is necessary.

Now, let’s take a look at the President’s Record on Disability.  Francesca L de Quesada, describes the 2013 Budget which includes help for people with Disabilities:
Increase Funding for the Education of Children with Disabilities.
Encourage Workforce Innovation to Improve Outcomes for People with Disabilities.
Support Workers with Disabilities.
Reduce Social Security Appeals Hearing Backlog.
Support Disability Research.
Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Enforcement.
Provide Housing for Persons with Disabilities.
Expand Passenger Rail Options.
Support the Medical Needs of Veterans.
Improve Effectiveness of Disability Programs.
Support the Rights of People with Disabilities Internationally

Below is a list of the Obama’s Administration Record for People with Disabilities over the past three years:
Improving Access to High-Quality Health Care.
Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions.
Implementing a New Patient’s Bill of Rights.
Ensuring Commitment to Community-Based Services.
The Affordable Care Act included the Community First Choice (CFC) Option, which is designed to give States additional resources to make community living a first choice.
Continuing to Support Persons on the Autism Spectrum.
Holding the line against Cuts to Medicaid:  (People with disabilities represent nearly 45 percent of Medicaid spending).
Supporting Individuals and Families Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.
Preventing Hearing Loss.
Helping Those Living with Paralysis.
Allowing Critical (Stem Cell) Research to Continue.
Strengthening Medicare.
Expanding Access to Work and Educational Opportunities as well as to the Transportation and Technology Essential to these Opportunities.
Making the Federal Government a Model Employer of person with Disabilities.
Improving Employment in the Private Sector.
Ensuring Children with Disabilities Receive High-Quality Early Education.
Addressing Bullying in Schools.
Increased Access to Transportation.
Ensuring Equal Access to Technology.
Ensuring that Everyone can Fully Access the Government.
Making It Easier for Americans with Disabilities to Get Protection Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued final regulations to implement the ADA Amendments Act(ADAAA). The Obama Administration has made government more responsive to and inclusive of the needs of the disability community.
Providing Inclusion and Representation in the Federal Government: The President and his Administration created three new senior level disability positions and offices: The Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the State Department (FEMA), The Office of Disability Integration, and Coordination at the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and The Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation at the Department of Transportation.
Updating Building Standards for State and Local Government Facilities making accessible for Disabled.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:  At the President’s direction, the United States signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which promotes equality and seeks to ensure that persons with disabilities, including our wounded warriors, enjoy the same rights and opportunities as all people.
Supporting Community Living: President Obama launched the “Year of Community Living” in 2009, and the Administration has continued to identify ways to improve access to housing, community supports, and independent living arrangements.

Next time, you are pondering, “what has this President done for me lately?” Think back on the list today.  Recognize he needs your support, your families, your friends, community, our nation, and our world to stand up against those actions which for generations has limited the capabilities of those injured and or disabled. 

I hope ERISA Reform will be added to this list because in my opinion, this legislation harms car accident victims more than anything else.  By the way, please support new legislation, H.R. 4532 – Social Security Disability Applicants’ Access to Professional Representation Act of 2010.  This will help balance the playing field on behalf of the Disabled.  Also, now you can take advantage of the new SSA Online System.

The President is right in my opinion, there is still so much more to do, especially for those dealing with Insurance Companies or Employers after a car collision, but I am convinced we are moving in the right direction.   For more detailed information on his record, visit the website

Mr. President, it is your day.  Thanks for all you do. 

Thanks for visiting.   
Be sure to leave ESTRA your comments today, and come back again real soon!

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