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Great Seal President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
Fact Sheet: New Action to Expand Employment Opportunities and
Ensure Equality for Individuals With Disabilities
10th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Released by the Office of the Press Secretary
The White House, Washington, DC, July 26, 2000

Blue Bar rule

Today, in an event at the FDR Memorial, President Clinton joined by the First Lady and leaders of the disability community, will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and take new action to further the goals of the ADA by: increasing Federal employment opportunities for people with disabilities; ensuring that Federal agencies establish effective procedures for addressing reasonable accommodation requests and that federal programs are free from disability-based discrimination; and reducing the barriers that Social Security beneficiaries face when they return to work. The President will also announce his intention to work with the Congress in the context of an overall budget framework to enact legislation that builds on the success of the Work Incentives Improvement Act by allowing children with disabilities to continue their Medicaid coverage even if their parents have returned to work. Finally, the President will unveil the Access America for People with Disabilities website created to provide quick access to services and other resources for people with disabilities and their families. In addition, the First Lady will announce a series of initiatives to improve and increase opportunities for young people with disabilities to successfully transition to work and achieve independence. Yesterday, Vice President Gore announced a number of initiatives to provide home- and community-based options for people with disabilities who frequently have no choice but institutionalization. These announcements build on the Clinton/Gore Administration's commitment to advancing the rights of people with disabilities as full participants in all of society and preserving the spirit and intent of the ADA.

ASSISTING DISABLED SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFICIARIES WHO ARE WORKING OR WANT TO GO TO WORK.

The President's announcements reflect the ADA's focus on helping individuals with disabilities to fully participate in the workforce by reducing the barriers that Social Security beneficiaries face when they return to work.

-- Automatically adjusting the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level for individuals with disabilities. The Administration proposes to encourage additional disabled individuals to return to work with enhanced security by increasing the SGA levels to reflect the annual increases in the national average wage index. Since the beginning of the Social Security disability program in 1956, there have been no regularly scheduled increases in SGA. Last year, the Administration increased the amount that Social Security disability beneficiaries can earn - from $500 to $700 per month - and continue to receive their benefits. Each year, approximately 400,000 disability beneficiaries participate in the workforce. Many hesitate to work because they cannot afford to give up critical benefits.

-- Increase the amount of monthly earnings that count during a trial work period for Social Security beneficiaries who go to work. This increase will encourage beneficiaries with disabilities to contribute their talent and energy to the workforce and test their ability to maintain a level of work activity without affecting their disability benefits by increasing from $200 to $530 the minimum amount of monthly earnings that count toward a monthly work period. In the future, the amount will be automatically adjusted based on any annual increases in the national average wage index.

INCREASING THE OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES TO BE EMPLOYED IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

The President will issue an Executive Order calling on Federal agencies to hire 100,000 people with disabilities over a five-year period. This ambitious commitment exceeds current hiring trends by 60%, reflecting this Administration's strong commitment to making the Federal government a model employer by recruiting a diverse and well-qualified workforce. The President believes that the Federal government is ready to meet this challenge. This Executive Order calls on agencies to recruit individuals with disabilities for the full range of levels and occupations in the Federal government. The President will also direct Federal agencies to establish effective procedures for processing requests for reasonable accommodation by employees and job applicants with disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way a job is performed that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Although many individuals with disabilities can apply for and perform jobs without any reasonable accommodations, workplace barriers - whether physical or procedural -- may keep others from performing jobs that they could do with some form of accommodation. Finally, to harness the power of new technologies to promote employment of people with significant disabilities, the President will call on Federal agencies that already operate customer service centers to identify positions that could be relocated to home-based or off-site facilities. If the agencies determine that it is feasible and appropriate to establish home-based positions, they are then required to develop a plan and guidelines that encourage the recruitment and employment of individuals with disabilities for such positions.

RENEWING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S COMMITMENT TO ENSURING THAT FEDERAL PROGRAMS ARE FREE FROM DISABILITY-BASED DISCRIMINATION.

The President will direct all Federal agencies to engage in a plan to ensure that today's Federal programs are free from disability-based discrimination, using specific steps designed by the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reach this important goal. As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the ADA, we should renew our commitment to ensure that people with disabilities have equal employment opportunities within the Federal government and are fully able to participate in all Federal government programs.

ACCESS AMERICA FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES WEBSITE.

In keeping with President Clinton and Vice President Gore's vision of using information technology to increase and improve customer service, the President announced a new website, Access America for People with Disabilities -- that will serve as a "one-stop" electronic link to an enormous range of useful information for people with disabilities and their families. The website contains information relating to children and youth; employment, self employment, and entrepreneurship; transportation; health care and long term services and supports; choice and self-determination; recreation and travel; civil rights and protections; college, adult and vocational education; housing; technology; income supports; tax credits and deductions; disability statistics; and emergency preparedness.

ANNOUNCING SUPPORT FOR LEGISLATION TO INCREASE ACCESS TO MEDICAID FOR WORKING FAMILIES WITH DISABLED CHILDREN.

Today, the President will applaud the efforts of members of Congress to pass the Grassley-Kennedy-Sessions-Waxman Family Opportunity Act of 2000 (S. 2274 and HR 4825), sponsored by a bipartisan majority in the Senate and a growing coalition in the House. This bill, which is the next logical step beyond the Jeffords-Kennedy Work Incentives Improvement Act, creates a new Medicaid buy-in option and will help thousands of children with disabilities who lose their Medicaid coverage because of increased family income due to employment. It will also include a time-limited demonstration that extends Medicaid coverage to children who have a disabling condition that, without health care coverage, would cause them to become so severely disabled as to be eligible for SSI. The President will announce that he will work with the Congress to enact legislation that achieves these goals in the context of a fiscally responsible budget framework.

ADDRESSING BARRIERS TO EMPLOYMENT FOR YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES.

The First Lady will announce a series of steps to help young people successfully transition from education to employment including:

-- Helping to bridge the transition from education to employment for students with disabilities. Young people with disabilities face enormous challenges when transitioning from education to employment. The First Lady will announce the Administration's plan to increase the amount that students who receive SSI can earn while continuing to receive the important protection SSI provides. The Administration will increase the maximum monthly earned income exclusion for students who receive Supplemental Security Income from $400 to $1,290 and the yearly exclusion from $1,620 to $5,200. The Administration is proposing to automatically adjust these amounts thereafter based on any annual increases in the cost-of-living index.

-- Working with youth to reach adult employment: the youth to work initiative. Recognizing that starting early is key to helping adults with disabilities gain employment skills and thrive in the workplace, the First Lady will unveil a new interagency Youth to Work Initiative. This Initiative would be created by amending the Executive Order that established the Presidential Taskforce on Employment of Adults with Disabilities to focus the mission on the important issue of helping young people make the transition from school to work. Youth with disabilities who want to enter the workforce face many barriers to employment, including low educational attainment, as well as low educational and employment expectations. Under the structure of the Taskforce, the Youth to Work Initiative will strengthen interagency research, demonstration projects, and education and training activities for youth to work activities. It will create a public awareness campaign to focus on youth with disabilities and reduce the stigma of their entering the workforce. To ensure fairness, this Initiative will ensure that youth with disabilities are included in all youth programs in federal agencies. To help ease the transition to work, it will explore how to increase access to health care and postsecondary education and training for youth going to work.

-- Able to work consortium to help youth with disabilities access job opportunities. The Presidential Taskforce on the Employment of Adults with Disabilities has worked with several major corporations to begin a public-private partnership that will help ensure that youth with disabilities are afforded the employment opportunities needed to lead to meaningful careers. These corporations, representing technology, pharmaceuticals, banking and investment, manufacturing, and communications, have volunteered to lead by example and demonstrate to other major corporations the importance and viability of hiring young people with disabilities. These pioneering companies will actively serve as mentors to other companies hiring youth with disabilities.

HELPING DISABLED INDIVIDUALS LIVE AND WORK IN THEIR COMMUNITIES.

Yesterday, Vice President Gore announced that the Clinton-Gore Administration will launch a series of major new initiatives designed to promote the delivery of home- and community-based care for people with disabilities of all ages. These initiatives include a new $50 million investment in FY 2001 to help states more easily offer services to people with disabilities of all ages in the setting most appropriate to their needs; new guidance to state Medicaid directors to help them comply with the recent Olmstead Supreme Court ruling requiring Medicaid coverage for home- and community-based services; and a new public-private partnership between the Administration and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help individuals with disabilities in institutional settings transition into community-based care. In addition, the Vice President also announced new action to increase home ownership; expand incentives for employment for individuals with disabilities to a broader range of housing assistance programs; and promote the development of new assistive technology for people with disabilities.

WORKING TO ACHIEVE THE GOALS OF THE ADA.

Throughout this Administration, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked hard to achieve the ADA's core goals -- equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. This Administration has vigorously defended the ADA in court cases across the Nation; collaborated with state Medicaid directors to implement the Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead decision, which prohibits unjustified isolation of institutionalized persons with disabilities; helped ensure that 80% of America's public transit buses are now accessible; implemented the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, which the President signed into law last December; and developed far-reaching policies for a comprehensive, coordinated employment agenda through the Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities

PRESIDENT URGES THE CONGRESS TO ACT NOW ON NATIONAL PRIORITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.

The President will urge the Congress to act now on national priorities that will address the unique needs of individuals with disabilities and are fully funded in his budget, including:

-- A new $1,000 tax credit to offset the formal and informal employment-related costs incurred by working people with disabilities. This tax credit would provide a new incentive for approximately 200,000-300,000 people with disabilities to begin working, and help those people with jobs maintain them. It would complement the Work Incentives Improvement Act and would be available to all people with disabilities, irrespective of their state Medicaid eligibility options. For participants in the Work Incentives Improvement Act Medicaid buy-in, this tax credit could pay for services not covered (e.g., assistive technology, transportation).

-- A new $3,000 long-term care tax credit. This initiative supports almost 2 million Americans with long-term care needs and the family members who care for them through a $3,000 tax credit, an investment of $27 billion over 10 years. This new tax credit supports the diverse needs of families by compensating a wide range of formal or informal long-term care for people of all ages with three or more limitations in activities of daily living (ADLs) or a comparable cognitive impairment.

-- Providing an affordable, accessible Medicare prescription drug benefit option for all beneficiaries. The President has proposed a voluntary, affordable Medicare prescription drug benefit for all beneficiaries, including up to 5 million people with disabilities. Beginning in 2002, it would provide prescription drug coverage that would have a zero deductible and cover half of all prescription drug costs up to $5,000 when fully phased in. It will also limit all out-of-pocket medication costs to $4,000. This optional benefit would also provide negotiated discounts that would ensure that Medicare beneficiaries no longer pay the highest prices in the marketplace. The President's proposal is part of a broader set of reforms that would take the Medicare Trust Fund off budget, extend its life to at least 2030, make the program more efficient and competitive, and dedicate $40 billion over 10 years to improve health care provider payment rates.

-- A strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights. This legislation endorsed by over 200 health care provider and consumer advocacy groups, is the only bipartisan proposal currently being considered that includes: protections for all Americans in all health plans; protections for patients accessing emergency room care from financial sanctions; requirements that all health plans ensure continuity of care for patients in the middle of a course of treatment; guarantees that assure access to necessary and accessible health care specialists; meaningful enforcement mechanisms that ensure recourse for patients who have been harmed as a result of a health plan's actions.

-- Establishing an Office of Disability Policy. The Clinton-Gore Administration supports establishing an Office of Disability Policy within the Department of Labor, and improving access for adults with disabilities to employment services offered through one-stop career center systems. The President's FY 2001 budget includes $21 million for the Office of Disability Policy, which was recommended by the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities.

[end of document]

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