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Where do Candidates Stand on Healthcare for People with Disabilities?

Washington, Nov. 2 – A key topic of conversation in the political campaign is the Affordable Care Act, known to many as “Obamacare.” One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act was to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions (like a disability) are able to afford health insurance and receive proper care. The Affordable Care Act made it illegal for health insurances to not accept a person regardless of pre-existing conditions. The Arc of Opportunity has additional information for individuals with disabilities seeking health insurance.

As part of the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire, the nonpartisan, nonprofit disability organization RespectAbility asked candidates running for president, senate or governor about their plans to address these issues. While many had plans regarding healthcare of people with disabilities, several had specific plans for healthcare reformations of people with disabilities. Every candidate was given an equal opportunity to address these issues and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer.

Of the one in five Americans with a disability, 13.3 percent lack any health insurance as of 2014. Furthermore, individuals with disabilities are more likely to receive poor health care plans.

There are several factors leading to people with disabilities having no or subpar health care – from inaccessible physical environments to social stigma and expectations. Many face the lack of inaccessible medical equipment and trained health professionals prohibiting them from getting fundamental primary and preventative care from their doctors. For example, people with physical disabilities may not be able to transfer to high examination tables. Individuals who are deaf face a language barrier with limited available ASL interpreters.

Even without a disability creating an access issue, many people with disabilities are not able to afford the growing costs of healthcare, even with new insurance options that cover people with pre-existing conditions. In fact, 15 percent of people with disabilities have not seen a doctor because it was too costly to do so, compared to just six percent of the general population.

While six percent of people without disabilities report they are in fair or poor health, 31 percent of people with disabilities report fair or poor health. The statistics are even worse for people with multiple minority statuses (i.e. African American or Hispanic with a disability). Among adults with a disability, 55.2 percent of Hispanic persons, and 46.6 percent of African Americans, report fair or poor health, as compared with 36.9 percent of white people with a disability.

The quotes in this article are the candidates’ answers to question 7 and 8 in the gubernatorial/senate questionnaire: “Do you have a plan to reform the benefits system (Medicaid, Medicaid buyin) to enable people with disabilities to work to the best of their capacities without losing supports they need to work? Do you have a plan to ensure people with disabilities are eligible for affordable health insurance regardless of preexisting conditions?” These were adapted from similar questions, numbers 6 and 7, in the presidential questionnaire.

From looking at the question 7 responses, Democrats and Republicans both agreed that people with disabilities need an opportunity to work, if they choose to do so, without losing necessary healthcare support.

Republican incumbent Sen. Richard Burr touted the ABLE Act as one of his “greatest legislative achievements.” The ABLE Act allows people with disabilities to have assets up to $100,000 while still being eligible for Social Security Insurance; previously, people with disabilities could lose medical benefits if they had more than $2,000 in savings.

“This limit was consigning people with disabilities to a life of poverty, a policy that I found to be unjust and immoral,” Burr replied in the questionnaire. “But thanks to the ABLE Act, people with disabilities will now have the ability to save and build assets without losing supports.”

His opponent, Democrat State Rep. Deborah Ross, agreed with reform. “We should reform Medicaid so that it incentivizes folks to work without the risk of losing the benefits they need,” she replied.

While the replies to question 8 varied in support for the Affordable Care Act, politicians from both sides of the aisle agreed that people with preexisting conditions should be able to receive health insurance.

“Exempting people from insurance because of pre-existing conditions is no longer allowed under current federal law,” Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga, who is running for the open senate seat in Maryland, responded. “This is one aspect of the Obamacare that I wholeheartedly supported and I will fight to make sure it remains the law of the land.”

Democrat Rep. Chris Van Hollen was “part of the fight to get the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed into law.”

“This historic reform legislation has expanded affordable coverage for millions of Americans,” he responded. “Today, 20 million previously uninsured Americans have health insurance coverage. Americans with pre-existing conditions are no longer denied coverage or treatment through private health plans, Medicaid, and Medicare.”

Check out all of the candidates’ full responses below:

Presidential Candidates
NOTE: Donald Trump declined to respond to the survey.

Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton (D)
“We need to do much better in enabling people with disabilities to work to the best of their capacities, even as we continue to provide the support they deserve, and I will do this as President. I will build on the constructive proposals that President Obama has put forward. His initiatives include demonstration grants that can spur new approaches to early intervention to improve the employment picture for people with disabilities – whether services for job-seekers, funds for states developing effective programs to help people with disabilities work, or partnerships with and incentives for employers. I want to work with people with disabilities and their advocates to expand on these proposals to ensure people with disabilities who want to work get the support they need. Such initiatives will be aligned with my broader plan to preserve and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for today and for future generations.

I am proud to support the Affordable Care Act, which among numerous other benefits for Americans, ensures that people with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied coverage. As with any piece of major legislation, it’s not perfect. But this is a real accomplishment we should be proud of, and I would defend and strengthen it as president. I have already set out some of the specific steps that I would take, like making sure that we crack down on the drug companies that charge too much and tackle the rising out-of-pocket costs that consumers face.

In addition to strengthening health care coverage for people with disabilities across the board, I am proposing specific initiatives that will make a difference in health care and health coverage for people with disabilities. I have already released my plan to help people and families who are affected by autism, and I am developing a comprehensive agenda on mental health, including enforcement of parity laws. I will continue to speak out about specific ways to improve how our health care system functions for people with disabilities and ensure that they are eligible for and can access the care that they need.”

Gubernatorial Candidates

State Sen. Colin Bonini (DE-R)
“In the welfare system, I have been looking at applying for waivers on the formulas on when assistance drops off. I believe the same needs to happen for people receiving disability benefits. People get to the point where they are trying to become self-sufficient and then we cut their assistance, frequently forcing them to lose their independence. If we can get some flexibility from the federal government, then states can change the formulas to make it possible for people with disabilities to work without losing necessary supports. I will actively pursue fixing the funding formulas to help those with disabilities have a greater chance at becoming and remaining independent and self-sufficient.

Nearly 40 percent of Delaware’s state budget is for Medicaid or healthcare for employees. On the private side, costs are rising. The current system cannot stand; Obamacare is a disaster for Delaware. I do not have a specific policy proposal but it is a very legitimate point that people with disabilities need to continue to receive coverage that is affordable and we need to definitely allow for those with pre-existing conditions access to quality health care.”

Rep. John Carney (DE-D)
“Delawareans with disabilities should not be forced to choose between much needed health care coverage and meaningful employment, which provides them with income and self-worth, and benefits our larger community. I support both of these goals, and believe we can find a way to meet this challenge. In 2004, Delaware commissioned a comprehensive analysis of the benefits and impacts of a Medicaid buy-in program. I have not looked at this analysis recently, and many aspects of Medicaid and the overall healthcare system have changed since the study was done. However, I would be open to considering such a program again if it could be implemented in an effective, fiscally responsible way.

While I was not a member of Congress when the Affordable Care Act was passed, I have voted more than 50 times in the U.S. House against efforts to repeal the law. I do not believe the ACA is perfect, and there are substantive changes that need to be made to keep insurance affordable for individuals and small businesses. But we must continue to ensure that those with pre-existing conditions, including those with disabilities, have access to quality, affordable health insurance.”

Gov. Steve Bullock (MT-D)
“I intend to continue my work of supporting those with disabilities as Governor, starting with healthcare. Expanding Medicaid is the fastest way to improve the quality of care we provide to citizens with disabilities. Right now, Missouri is exhibiting some dangerous trends in its healthcare system. A different rural hospital closes every eight months. There is a growing shortage of healthcare professionals across the state. Yet, hospitals are still forced to make further staffing cuts. We cannot expect healthcare outcomes to improve in a system that overworks its staff and underfunds its facilities. Under such an unsustainable model, it is no surprise that the turnover rate for nurses in Missouri grows higher every year. People in our state are driving further from their homes, waiting longer at the doctor’s office, and receiving care from exhausted and less experienced healthcare workers. Access to quality care should not be such an imposition on the lives of Missourians. As Governor, I will work to reverse this trend.

The federal dollars that would come with Medicaid expansion would immediately provide relief to this strained system. And yet, the Missouri legislature refuses to accept the money for purely partisan reasons. They are willing to let Missourians suffer while they try to score political points. They stand idly by as life becomes harder and harder for all Missourians, but particularly for those with disabilities. As Governor, I will make it a top priority to bring that money to our state.”

Mr. Greg Gianforte (MT-R)
“Medicaid Expansion→ At a time when partisan gridlock is paralyzing much of the nation, I’m proud to have passed the HELP Act in 2015, a bipartisan bill that expanded access to healthcare to tens of thousands of Montanans. We know that many of the people who now qualify for coverage under the HELP Act are individuals struggling with disabilities who may not yet qualify for Medicare or SSDI and home health care workers taking care of people with disabilities and until the HELP Act, couldn’t afford their own healthcare . We were able to get this important legislation passed because a bipartisan group of legislators was willing to come together and work with me on a compromise solution that put Montanans’ health above political ideology and partisan bickering.

Healthcare Workforce Development→ I’ve also been focused on making sure that we have the healthcare workforce necessary to care for our growing aging population, including seniors with disabilities. We’ve achieved unprecedented levels of cooperation between the Department of Labor, our colleges and universities, and the healthcare industry in this effort. What’s so exciting about all of this work is that it’s going to train our students of today for high-demand, high-wage work while also making sure we can meet the healthcare needs of their parents and grandparents as they age.

For example, nearly 100 nursing and health faculty from Montana’s two-year and four-year colleges recently came together with Montana’s healthcare employers to completely redesign our state’s healthcare curriculum . This will lead to the creation of a common nursing curriculum at 8 two-year colleges, including 2 tribal colleges. The new curriculum will allow students to easily add degrees and credentials as they progress through their careers.We’re also increasing opportunities for on-the-job training by developing healthcare apprenticeships. For example, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education are refining standards for specialty nurse aide apprenticeships in geriatrics and dementia care. We know that kind of specialty care is going to be so important in the coming years.”

Ms. Linda Coleman (NC-D) – running for Lt. Gov.
“We need to expand Medicaid per the ACA immediately. It is an irresponsible waste of taxpayer dollars and a grave disservice to the state’s public health to not expand Medicaid. Moreover, we need to expand Medicaid further to PwDs by raising the income and asset restriction so as to not discourage PwDs from pursuing economic advancement because the policy forces them to choose between coverage and quality work. Expanding Medicaid not only the right thing to do, it is smart policy.

As a proponent for expanding access to high­-quality, affordable healthcare, I stand by the ACA. Although we should build on the ACA to guarantee better care at a more affordable rate, the ACA is a necessary step in the right direction. One of the most important clauses of the ACA is guaranteeing coverage for those with pre­existing conditions. Discrimination is unacceptable, and denying coverage to PwDs or those with pre­existing conditions is discrimination with life and death consequences. In any reiteration of the ACA, anti­-discrimination clauses and guaranteed coverage for pre­existing conditions must be included. Furthermore, we need to provide our Commissioner of Insurance with the tools needed to increase the competitiveness of our current market and increase the number of options for coverage. I will work with all of the stakeholders to to provide access to quality care.”

Mr. Mike Weinholtz (UT-D)
“People with disabilities are entitled to Medicare as a financial support and income should not affect the ability to receiving of it – and I am concerned that some individuals with disabilities don’t work to their full potential in fear of losing their Medicaid.  This isn’t right, if someone is willing and able to work, they should be able to do so without fear of losing their benefits.  Allowing them to work to their potential will increase their independence and allow for greater personal growth.

I support the Affordable Care Act, its support of preexisting conditions, and the subsequent expansion of Medicaid in Utah. As governor, I will call upon the legislature do all that it can expand health care so that critical equipment, such as wheelchairs, can either be partially or fully subsidized.”

Sec. Sue Minter (VT-D)
“Vermont has been and should continue to be aggressive in seeking Medicaid waivers to allow maximum flexibility in benefits. Our Choices for Care waiver program has provided thousands of Vermonters the opportunity to receive health care and other services in their homes.

Not only do I support the ACA’s protection of people with pre-existing conditions, I strongly support Vermont’s ongoing efforts to reform our health care delivery system to guarantee universal access to high quality and affordable care.”

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (VT-R)
“As Governor, one of my first acts will be to order an independent examination of all agencies and departments of state government. This includes the Agency of Administration, the Department of Health Access, the Division of Health Care Reform, and Green Mountain Care – all of which oversee the implementation of Medicaid and coordinate access to Medicaid. The scope of this analysis would include examining asset and income restrictions, as well as the portability of benefits, within the administration of Medicaid. From the results of these audits, I plan to work on a reform package to improve and modernize these areas of state government, and provide better service to all of our citizens.

I support the provisions in the Affordable Care Act which prevent insurance providers from discriminating against those with pre-­existing conditions, and I have no plans, nor will I support any, to change this protection. I would be open to discussions between the Legislature and Vermont’s insurance providers to make sure necessary accommodations such as wheelchairs are covered, available and affordable.”

Senate Candidates

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris (CA-D)
“Kamala Harris supports reforms that will help persons with disabilities realize their greatest potential, including President Obama’s proposal to provide grants to fund programs to enhance employment prospects for persons with disabilities through, amongst other things, the creation of career centers specifically designed to serve persons with disabilities. In the Senate, Kamala will work with persons with disabilities to make sure these proposals become a reality.

Kamala Harris supports the important progress made by the Affordable Care Act, especially the ACA’s requirement that all health insurance plans cover treatment for pre-existing conditions from the first day of coverage. Kamala will fight to ensure that pre-existing conditions are covered by health insurance and that persons with disabilities can rely on health insurance to receive the accommodations they need. In the U.S. Senate, she will continue to defend the ACA – just as she has as California’s Attorney General – and she will work to expand access to quality health care until there is universal access in America.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA-D)
“I plan to continue the positive work done by the Affordable Care Act to expand health coverage to all people. Because Medicaid benefits can be lost if disabled individuals pass the asset and income threshold, some opt not to see increased employment to avoid the loss of crucial healthcare. There are also issues with lapses in coverage if people with disabilities change employers or coverage. When elected to the Senate, I plan to work with my colleagues to tackle both of these issues by ensuring benefits are not taken away due to income or change of coverage.

I proudly supported the passage of the Affordable Care Act and applaud its work to ensure that all Americans have access to health insurance. Those with disabilities cannot be excluded from our world class health care system, and I will fight to ensure that pre-existing conditions are not a barrier to sustaining health.”

Mr. John Carroll (HI-R)
“As a voter with a hearing disability and having experienced numerous surgeries that have left me with a few replacements, I plan to introduce legislation that will make insurance company interests secondary in the Medicaid decision-making process. Doctors, who’ve developed close relationships with their clients and understand their needs, should be making all decisions.”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-D)
“I introduced legislation to do just that: the SAVE Benefits Act. Seniors, Veterans, people with disabilities and other Social Security beneficiaries did not receive a cost-of-living adjustment this year despite rising costs. I am working with Senator Elizabeth Warren to provide a cost-of-living increase, which would give a one-time boost to Social Security benefits by closing the loophole that allows tax write-offs for corporate executive bonuses.

I support the Affordable Care Act and insuring those with pre-existing conditions. I am willing to listen to all stakeholders and work to improve the ACA so it can benefit the maximum number of Americans. Already in Illinois, close to 623,000 people have signed up for health care plans available through the ACA, and the current uninsured rate has dropped from 15.5% to 8.8%.

We also cannot leave those who are most vulnerable behind. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are programs that middle-class families, seniors, and those living with disabilities depend on to make ends meet and live their lives with dignity. By identifying waste and fraud in these programs we can strengthen them, which is why I cosponsored the bipartisan PRIME Act with Congressman Roskam, parts of which was passed into law, to address Medicare waste and fraud. Taking steps to reduce our national deficit does not need to come at the expense of supporting middle-class families and seniors.”

Sen. Mark Kirk (IL-R)
“In January 2012, my life changed forever when I suffered an ischemic stroke. If it weren’t for the quick response of paramedics and the outstanding surgeons and staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, I would not have survived. Unfortunately, less than five percent of stroke patients get tPA therapy like I did, the only approved treatment for an acute stroke. By expanding use of tPA and telestroke, we can make sure other stroke victims have the same positive outcome I did. That’s why I introduced the S. 1465, the FAST Act, which would allow Medicare to reimburse for telestroke services no matter where they occur. My stroke has left my left side paralyzed and I spend a portion of my time in a wheelchair. The stroke has made me much more empathetic as a person.

Increase Stroke Research Funds: Senator Kirk led efforts to increase research funding for StrokeNet, a first of its kind research consortium within National Institutes for Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS). NINDS – the leading stroke research agency in the federal government – receives an additional $107 million in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill for fiscal year (FY) 2017 which passed committee. While heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease remain our Nation’s most costly disease, NIH invests only four percent of its budget on heart research and one percent on stroke research. Therefore the increased funding for StrokeNet in this bill will support a revolutionary network of research that will help stroke patients return to work faster following recovery.”

Mr. Patrick Wiesner (KS-D)
“If not provided health insurance through their employers, I support Medicaid for those with disabilities. My proposal would not require a buy in; it would an entitlement.”

Mr. Foster Campbell (LA-D)
“We should grow grants that encourage employer incentives. I believe we need a robust conversation and strategy around how to ensure that we don’t disincentive any worker by failing to provide healthcare options to working and non-working people with disabilities.

I want to improve coverage for people with disabilities including expanding services and access to mental health and I will support changes to the ACA that accommodate all families that are struggling to access healthcare options for people with disabilities including families affected by autism.”

Ms. Caroline Fayard (LA-D)
“No person with a disability should be excluded from the workforce because they are not receiving the healthcare they deserve. I support legislation that would waive asset and income restrictions placed by Medicaid for people with documented disabilities that are seeking to transition into the workforce. A more flexible system that incentivizes workforce participation will be positive progress.

I fully support the Affordable Care Acts restrictions on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. I will work to ensure that people with disabilities are fully covered from the first day of coverage.”

Mr. Abhay Patel (LA-R)
“The entitlement system as a whole needs to be reformed. These benefits should be a hand up, rather than a handout.

Obamacare must be repealed and replaced with market-based solutions, not mandates.”

Del. Kathy Szeliga (MD-R)
“People with disabilities should not be penalized if they are able to work by losing needed support. As a Senator, I would work with my colleagues to make sure people with disabilities are provided the support they need under Medicaid.

Exempting people from insurance because of pre-existing conditions is no longer allowed under current federal law. This is one aspect of the Obamacare that I wholeheartedly supported and I will fight to make sure it remains the law of the land. The best way to ensure people have access to affordable health insurance is by creating competition among insurance companies and ensuring transparency for consumers.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-D)
“More needs to be done to level the playing field for people with disabilities without a looming fear of losing important benefits.

I was the lead Democratic sponsor of the ABLE Act, which helps level the playing field for people with disabilities and their families through equal access to tax-free saving accounts. The accounts provide individuals with disabilities greater financial freedom and security by allowing them to save a certain amount of assets and still receive vital benefits. Earlier this year, my colleagues and I introduced a package of bills aimed at enhancing the ABLE Act. One of the bills, the ABLE to Work Act, builds on the success of the ABLE Act by making it possible for disabled people who work to save a portion of their income in an ABLE account without risking loss of benefits.

Additionally, I introduced the Transition to Independence Act (TIA), which would help and incentivize states to move individuals with disabilities out of segregated work settings and into competitive, integrated employment. Participating states must have a Medicaid Buy-in program. Medicaid Buy-in programs allow people with disabilities to keep Medicaid coverage, by paying an affordable premium, even if they are earning too much money to usually qualify for Medicaid. This lets people with disabilities keep important services that let them live in the community.

As a member of the Democratic leadership team, it was an honor to be part of the fight to get the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed into law. This historic reform legislation has expanded affordable coverage for millions of Americans. Today, 20 million previously uninsured Americans have health insurance coverage. Americans with pre-existing conditions are no longer denied coverage or treatment through private health plans, Medicaid, and Medicare. Additionally, not only are young adults able to stay on their parents’ insurance until their 26th birthday, but now millions more have access to preventative health services, like cancer screenings, without cost sharing.

Even though the ACA has made several strides to improve quality care and make health coverage more affordable, there are still gaps that need to be filled. I will continue to fight against the outrageous skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs and to ensure people are not denied needed devices and accommodations to live independently.”

Sec. of State Jason Kander (MO-D)
“We must ensure that Medicaid remains strong for the Americans who need it the most. I support protecting it and fighting back against efforts to turn it into a voucher program. At the federal level, we need to make sure those with disabilities have the opportunity to get ahead without risking benefits they rely on.

I supported Governor Nixon’s recent signing into law a bill that would raise the amount a disabled beneficiary could have in savings and still qualify for Medicaid from $1,000 to $5,000. Disabled Missourians should still be able to have the security of a substantial savings account without losing the benefits they need.

While I believe there are still changes that need to be made to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the fact that individuals are no longer discriminated against or denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition is a major step forward. Additional changes I would support include: introducing a cheaper plan for Americans who are fortunate enough to not need much medical care, like the Expanded Consumer Choice Act, which would create a new tier of coverage through the marketplaces; fully funding the FDA’s Office of Generic Drugs to clear out their backlog of generic drugs for approval, which will provide consumers more affordable options and provide much needed financial relief, particularly to those with disabilities; and lifting the ban on allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, which would help cut costs for more than 37 million seniors and save Medicare and tax dollars.”

Rep. Joe Heck (NV-R)
“I support all people being eligible for health insurance, regardless of pre-existing conditions.”

Atty. Gen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV-D)
“I support the right of people with disabilities to work, should they choose, and in the Senate I will continue to be an advocate for those rights.

I support the changes under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that ensure individuals are no longer discriminated against or denied coverage based on a preexisting condition. The ACA was an important first step in curbing the worst abuses in the insurance industry, but I do believe that there are ways to improve it, included repealing the Cadillac Tax.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (NH-R)
“I am a cosponsor of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act that would allow individuals with disabilities to save and plan for future expenses without affecting their eligibility for Medicaid, Social Security, or other programs. It was signed into law in 2014. I’m also a cosponsor of the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act, which waives the five month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for individuals diagnosed with ALS.

I’ve said before that I believe any health insurance legislation or laws should ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions are still eligible for affordable health insurance, and I’ll work to ensure that is always the case.”

Gov. Maggie Hassan (NH-D)
I believe that all people with disabilities should be able to work to the best of their abilities. In New Hampshire, we allow employed individuals with disabilities to continue to receive Medicaid coverage at over 400 percent of the federal poverty level, one of the most generous eligibility limits in the country. In the Senate, I will continue working to ensure that we strengthen programs such as Medicaid to ensure that we can provide people with disabilities the support they need to work.

I support continuing to build on the progress we’re making under the Affordable Care Act, which ensures that people are no longer being denied coverage due to preexisting conditions. It also means there are no more lifetime caps on coverage, and young people are able to stay on their parents’ plans. And it enabled us in New Hampshire to come together to pass a fiscally responsible, bipartisan health care plan that is already providing quality, affordable coverage to nearly 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters. As a United States Senator I will fight to maintain protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

Sen. Richard Burr (NC-R)
“One of my greatest legislative achievements was the ABLE Act. Under the ABLE Act, people with disabilities will be able to establish ABLE accounts that allow them to hold assets without losing eligibility for SSI (up to $100,000), Medicaid, and other public benefits. Before the ABLE Act, people with disabilities faced losing their benefits – benefits they need to survive and get medical care – if they had more than $2,000 in assets to their name. This limit was consigning people with disabilities to a life of poverty, a policy that I found to be unjust and immoral. But thanks to the ABLE Act, people with disabilities will now have the ability to save and build assets without losing supports.

I have also introduced the ABLE to Work Act, which would promote employment for people with disabilities, and I am continuing to seek out new ways that we can enable people with disabilities to have jobs and careers without losing access to the critical services they need to live with dignity. I have also introduced legislation called the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, which would allow Americans who acquire a disability later in life to be eligible for an ABLE account.

I support the continuity of care for individuals with disabilities in order to better their daily quality of life. Last year, I proposed a blueprint that included provisions to strengthen and improve Medicaid. All Americans, including people on Medicaid, should have the same access to the best health care available.

Under my health care reform blueprint, the Patient CARE Act, no one could be denied health insurance based on a pre-existing condition. My proposal would also prohibit insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on a consumer, which is important to people with disabilities who may incur significant health care expenses over the course of their lifetime. I believe all Americans, including people with disabilities, should have access to quality and affordable health care.”

State Rep. Deborah Ross (NC-D)
“We should reform Medicaid so that it incentivizes folks to work without the risk of losing the benefits they need.

We can all agree that the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, but it expanded health insurance to thousands of North Carolinians and took on discrimination in coverage. And I won’t go back to a time when insurance companies discriminated against women, canceled people’s policies if they were sick, cost so much out of pocket that people were forced into bankruptcy, and denied coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. As a U.S. Senator, I will make sure that all people with disabilities are eligible for affordable health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions.”

Mr. Joe DeMare (OH-G)
“The Green Party is working to establish universal, single payer health care in the United States. That means that every single person will be covered fully regardless of whether or not they have disabilities. They will be covered if they change jobs, or if they are not working.

Our single payer, universal health care system will be based on the models used by other developed countries such as France, and Canada. We will NOT emulate the British system, which has created a “two-tiered” health care situation. Everyone will be included, regardless of pre-existing conditions.”

Mr. Mark Callahan (OR-R)
“I have spent many hours discussing with my campaign manager, Narlina, all of the ins and outs of the Medicare/Medicaid system and how it is not properly set up for the disabled. I believe that it needs its own reform for the disabled and that due to their medical needs it should always ensure their coverage especially while working. We cannot allow for the disabled to have any lack of coverage due to an employer or lack of funds as the building block of a disabled person being able to work is the assurance of their health being in optimal condition to do so.

Like I said above, I think there needs to be a reform within the health system specifically for the disabled that ensures they always have quality care no matter employer, financial situation or pre-existing conditions.”

Mrs. Katie McGinty (PA-D)
“It’s important for lawmakers to remember that living with a disability often means taking on more costs than those who are not disabled, and that your salary doesn’t change just because you have more bills each month. I believe we should explore options relating to work for people with disabilities, and would be open to options that allow the disabled to work while also receiving support from programs like Medicaid.

I support the Affordable Care Act the progress it made towards ending healthcare discrimination against pre-existing conditions. In the Senate, I will defend the ACA from partisan attacks that try to weaken or repeal this critical legislation. Our job now is to build upon and improve the ACA, including improving the provisions that relate to people with disabilities.”

Mr. Jay Williams (SD-D)
I do not have a specific plan to reform Medicaid, but I fully support the Affordable Care Act and I am in favor of extending and expanding health care coverage for all Americans. The Americans with Disabilities Act is an important tool for ensuring people with disabilities are able to be successful in the work force.

Calls to repeal the ACA are, in my opinion, contrary to the best interest of the United States. After more than 50 years of trying to put a national health care plan in place, the ACA finally put the USA in alignment with all of the other countries in the western world. The ACA is a beginning, and I believe there are many ways in which it can and should be improved. Ensuring people with disabilities are fully supported is just one of the improvements that I support.

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (WI-D)
“I’m running for Senate because I believe that everyone, not just multimillionaires, deserves a stable and prosperous life. Social Security, including SSDI, should never be privatized or used as a political bargaining chip, and we should be expanding Social Security, not cutting it. I voted for the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which created the Medicaid buyin program, and I believe that more needs to be done to remove barriers to accessing Medicaid, particularly when people move to a new state.

People with disabilities should never be denied health insurance based on a preexisting condition. I voted for the Affordable Care Act and I am committed to further expanding access to health care for all Americans.”


RespectAbility has asked all the candidates for Governor and Senator on both sides of the aisle to complete the same questionnaire. We will share responses from additional campaigns as we receive them.

The RespectAbility Report is a nonpartisan political commentary on the 2016 U.S. elections with a focus on disability issues. The RespectAbility Report has covered all of the Democratic and Republican candidates for president, senate and governor. Coverage can be found at http://therespectabilityreport.org/. The RespectAbility Report is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates.

Published in#PwDsVote 2016 QuestionnaireCongressGovernorsSenate

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