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Author archive for: Justin Chappell

Cruz, Clinton Campaigns Commit to Fixing Drug Addiction Epidemic

Hooksett, N.H., Feb. 4 – In 2014, more than 300 people in New Hampshire died from drug overdose, many due to the spike in heroin use throughout the state. This was the topic at the “New Hampshire Roundtable Discussion on Addiction and the Heroin Epidemic” sponsored by The Addiction Policy Forum. Sen. Ted Cruz addressed the crowd and then joined a roundtable discussion including a representative for former Secretary Hillary Clinton. Key stakeholders from law enforcement, prevention, treatment and recovery as well as families affected by addiction made up the rest of the roundtable.

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Rubio’s Family Forms Foundation for His Support of Disability Issues

Bow, N.H., Feb. 3 – Rubio credits his father and grandfather with shaping his views about people with disabilities.

“The two most influential men growing up in my life were my father and my grandfather. They both happened to be disabled,” presidential candidate Marco Rubio said in Bow, New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Rubio said his grandfather raised seven kids in Cuba without the use of his leg following developing polio as a young child, after which a bus accident further hurt the leg.

“You can imagine how difficult it was in a developing country for a disabled man to find work,” said Rubio.

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Christie Calls for Increased Access to Homecare Services and Group Homes

Nashua, N.H., Feb. 2 – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is calling for people with disabilities to be able to live with their families in their own homes and not in institutions.

“We have moved in New Jersey toward favoring homecare over institutional care,” Christie said at a town hall in Nashua on the evening of the first votes being cast for president in Iowa.

“We’ve done it for two reasons. One, because we think we can do it in a smart affordable way, and two, because we think people with disabilities do better in their own home than they do in an institution,” said Christie. “Our new budget will up the reimbursement cost for that type of care, and increase the spending that we do on it because we need to make it more competitive.”

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Clintons Continue Focus On Transitioning People With Disabilities To Work, SSDI Reform

Washington, Jan. 23 – In an appearance for his wife, former President Bill Clinton told the crowd he loves Iowa because people are not afraid to tell him exactly what to do.

Most recently, he recounted a story with an individual who commended him for getting a law changed while president “that said people with disabilities could go to work and still keep their Medicaid coverage.”

Speaking in Marshalltown, Iowa on Jan. 15, Clinton called it a “win-win deal.”

“If you have $100,000 in medical bills to maintain your condition every year, why take a $30,000 job? But if you take the $30,000 job you’ve got something to do, you’re contributing to the economy, you’re paying into Social Security, you’re paying into Medicare.”

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Trump Says He’s Hired People with Disabilities, Discusses Plan To Stop Drug Addiction

Urbandale, Iowa, Jan. 15 – When a grieving father with a son who died of a heroin overdose asked Donald Trump how he’ll address this epidemic, the presidential hopeful said he’s going to stop the drug traffic from coming in through Mexico.

“We’re going to build a wall,” he said during a town hall at Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa. “It’s going to be a real wall, because that stuff is pouring across. And we’re going to have a real wall. And people are going to come in to the country but they are going to come in legally. We’re going to stop that drug traffic.”

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Bush Focuses On Disability Employment, Violence Against People With Disabilities

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 14 – Presidential candidate Jeb Bush is working on a plan to help the 70 percent of people with disabilities who are not employed obtain jobs.

“We are working on a strategy to eliminate the barriers to work,” the former governor of Florida said Tuesday at Brownells firearm manufacturing plant in Grinnell, Iowa. “I truly believe that everybody should have a chance to rise up. A country that works is one where the barriers for everybody is lifted.”

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Trump Tells Autistic Adult She’ll Be “Happy” with Employment Plan

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 11 – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he’ll be working on a plan to provide more opportunities for autistic adults to work.

Jane, a self-described autistic woman, asked Trump for a plan to help “autistic adults like myself get employed.”

“We’re going to work on it,” he replied on Saturday in Clear Lake, Iowa. “You’ll be happy. Just watch.”

Trump’s proclamation comes days after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled her plan focusing on autism, including calls for public-private partnerships to help young adults with autism become employed.

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Rubio Promotes a Plan For People With Preexisting Conditions To Purchase Healthcare

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 10 – Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio called for high-risk pools at the state level for people with preexisting conditions.

“For someone with a disability or a preexisting condition or a chronic illness that makes it difficult to ensure, that’s where I think government can help with a high-risk pool at the state level that says there are a certain number of people in this country that because they have chronic condition or serious preexisting condition, they cannot get coverage in the private market,” the senator from Florida said in Marshalltown, Iowa, on Wednesday. “That is what government should be focused on helping, not disrupting the entire network but those specific people.”

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On the Campaign Trail with a Wheelchair

Washington, Dec. 30 – I’m Justin Chappell, one of The RespectAbility Report’s newest reporters. I also have Spina bifida, and, as a result, use a wheelchair. But this does not limit me. There are negative stigmas out there that discriminate against people with disabilities. But these stigmas are inaccurate and I live a very full life. Today I own my own place, am married to the love of my life, and now, on behalf of RespectAbility, I am interviewing presidential candidates!

The RespectAbility Report is a new online publication sponsored by the nonprofit disability rights and opportunity group RespectAbility. Our publisher, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, worked at Campaigns & Elections magazine and had a newspaper column for many years. Our editor, Lauren Appelbaum, has advanced degrees in journalism and worked in NBC News’ political unit with Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell.

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​Life On the Campaign Trail

Washington, Dec. 11 – I’m Justin Chappell, The RespectAbility Report’s newest reporter. I spent the month of November with fellow disability community leaders traveling throughout Iowa, using my wheelchair in nearly nine inches of snow to interview almost every candidate for president on both sides of the aisle.

Our travels have taken us from the state capital of Des Moines to Em’s Coffee Shop in Independence as we ask the presidential candidates how they would be a voice for people with disabilities and how they plan to engage people with disabilities in the political process.

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Kasich Prioritizes Mental Health Treatment Following San Bernardino Shooting

Washington, Dec. 9 – Ohio Gov. John Kasich says gun control will not fix attacks like the San Bernardino shooting, which he had called a terrorist attack early on. In addition to more security, Kasich also talked about treatment for people with mental illness.

“If we can strengthen our families, strengthen our neighborhoods, not allow people to be isolated and have the kind of treatment they need for the mental illness they have, then I think we could make some significant progress,” the presidential hopeful said.

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Huckabee Expanded Accessibility of Arkansas State Capitol, Encourages People with Disabilities to Examine His Record

Des Moines, Nov. 25 – Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said people with disabilities could “look at his record” and be comforted.

“I’ve been very supportive of the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) in my own state,” the former governor of Arkansas said following the Presidential Family Forum Friday night. “When we did renovations to the governor’s mansion, we made it accessible to the disabled. We did the same thing in the state capitol.”

In March 2000, Huckabee was one of four governors who wrote U.S. Senate leaders urging Congress to fully fund 40 percent of Part B services as authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA.)  The letter noted the federal government’s contribution then amounted to only 13 percent, and “although Governors strongly support providing the necessary services and support to help all students succeed, the costs associated with implementing IDEA are placing an increased burden on states.”

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Santorum Values Dignity & Contributions of People with Disabilities, Seeks Engagement in Political Process

Des Moines, Nov. 24 – “We have a little girl with a severe disability and we treasure her,” former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum said following the Presidential Family Forum on Friday.

“We believe she’s every bit as important a member of our family and contributing to society as any one of our kids,” the presidential hopeful said. “She does it in a different way, but it’s no less a valuable way. I think the big thing is to recognize contributions don’t come down just to dollars and cents, they come down to a lot of different things – and to respect that and to make sure that we can maximize that.”

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Cruz Supports Empowering People with Disabilities to Live Independently

Des Moines, Nov. 23 – “People with disabilities want independence,” Sen. Ted Cruz said to The RespectAbility Report.

“They don’t want to be dependent on government,” the presidential hopeful added. “There are many programs that provide, but sometimes trap people in dependency.”

Fully one-in-five Americans have a disability and polls show that most of them want to work. Yet 70 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities are outside of the workforce.

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Trump Commits To More Jobs & Better Health Care For Veterans, People With Disabilities

Newton, Iowa, Nov. 20 – Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said, “I will” when asked if he is committed to getting more veterans and people with disabilities employed.

“You gotta give them hope, build their spirit,” Trump said during a town hall Thursday night in Newton, IA. “The unemployment numbers don’t tell the whole story.”

More than 80 percent of people with disabilities are not employed, according to the U.S Department of Labor. Though the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains listed at 10.5 percent, as it does not count those who have given up looking for work. Nearly 60 percent of people without disabilities are employed, with the unemployment rate currently at 4.6 percent for people without disabilities.

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Sanders Supports Affordable Healthcare Allowing People To Live And Work

Des Moines, Nov. 17 – At a roundtable with family caregivers and medical experts, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders listened to Iowans talk about how both retirees needing additional help and working age people with disabilities who choose to work may lose coverage for personal care attendants under Medicaid and Medicare – trapping them in a lose-lose situation with this barrier to work.

When The RespectAbility Report’s Justin Chappell asked how a President Sanders would be a voice for the 70 percent of unemployed people with disabilities nationwide and 55 percent in Iowa, Sanders acknowledged that this is an important issue that he needs to learn more about.

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Clinton Reaffirms Commitment to be Strong Voice for People with Disabilities

Des Moines, Nov. 17 – Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton pledged to be a strong voice for people with disabilities.

“This has been a strong concern and priority of mine,” Clinton said in an exclusive interview with The RespectAbility Report immediately following the Democratic presidential debate in Iowa Saturday night.

The former Secretary of State’s first job out of law school was with the Children’s Defense Fund, where she worked to pass the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) after discovering parents were not sending their children to school because schools did not accommodate children with disabilities. She often references this work on the campaign trail when asked about people with disabilities.

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O’Malley Promotes Record Of Support For Workforce Training, Best Practices

Des Moines, Nov. 15 – Maryland increased its effectiveness of its workforce training programs, presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley said of his time as Maryland’s governor.

“I learned as governor the very disparate  way, that people with disabilities are kept out of our workforce, and so as governor we actually increased and improved on the effectiveness on our workforce training programs, especially as they relate to people with disabilities,” O’Malley said in an exclusive interview with The RespectAbility Report following the CBS Democratic presidential primary debate.

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“Nothing About Us, Without Us”

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – I’m Justin Chappell, The RespectAbility Report’s newest reporter. I’m covering the CBS Democratic debate this evening along with hundreds of other journalists from around the country. To my knowledge, I’m the only reporter here who uses a wheelchair – and glad to be keeping with our community’s motto of “nothing about us, without us.”

I’ll be based here in Des Moines for next couple of weeks for The RespectAbility Report, covering the presidential candidates and asking them about critical issues important to our community. Throughout the 2016 election season, I’ll be working with disability activists throughout the country to mobilize our community in the policial process.

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