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The Candidates on Disability

I just received this terrific information from my friend Stan Klein, who serves on the Disability Policy Committee of the Obama/Biden campaign. It’s a comparison of their positions versus those of McCain/Palin on issues affecting people with disabilities. With Sarah Palin running around claiming to be The First Advocate, it’s illuminating.

OBAMA ON SUPPORT FOR LIVING INDEPENDENTLY IN THE COMMUNITY
Obama is a co-sponsor of the Community Choice Act of 2007. Obama believes that individuals should be able to make their own choices for their living arrangements and live independently in their communities. [S.799, 110th Congress]
Obama is a co-sponsor of the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act Of 2007. This bill would help individuals with functional impairments pay for services that they need to maximize their independence. [S.1758, 110th Congress]

MCCAIN ON SUPPORT FOR LIVING INDEPENDENTLY IN THE COMMUNITY
McCain strongly opposes the Community Choice Act. Asked about the Community Choice Act at a Town Hall in Denver, McCain said “The Community Choice Act is not a piece of legislation that I support.” [McCain Town Hall, 7/7/08]

OBAMA ON EDUCATION FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
Barack Obama supports full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), early intervention and developmental programs, and expanded college opportunities for students with disabilities.
Obama voted for over $44 billion in funding for the IDEA. [SCR 1, Senate Vote #94, 3/22/07]
Obama will invest $10 billion per year in early intervention, educational and developmental programs for children between zero and five. His plan will help expand programs such as Early Head Start to serve more children with disabilities. His plan also will encourage states to expand programs for children with disabilities, such as IDEA Part C. [Obama Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities]

Obama supports increasing opportunities for college students with disabilities. He also will provide more support for these college students. Obama was an original co-sponsor of the Senate bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (S. 1642) which significantly expands opportunities and supports for individuals with disabilities to attend college and graduate programs. [S.1642, 110th Congress]
MCCAIN ON EDUCATION FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
John McCain has repeatedly voted against the IDEA even though he claims he supports full funding of it.
McCain has repeatedly voted against funding for special education.

➢ McCain repeatedly voted against funding increases for the IDEA. [H.R.4577, Senate Vote #170, 6/30/00; SCR 23, Senate Vote #103, 3/26/03]

➢ McCain has chosen tax cuts for the wealthy over education funding for students with disabilities. Specifically, McCain voted against increasing spending in the amount of $229 billion over 10 years for the IDEA. McCain also voted against an amendment that would create a reserve fund of $73 billion in IDEA funding. The spending would have been made possible by reducing tax cuts. [SCR 23, Senate Vote #103, 3/26/03; SCR 23, Senate Vote #70, 3/21/03]

McCain did not co-sponsor reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (S. 1642). He also did not vote on passage of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in the 110th Congress. [S.1642, 110th Congress; S. 1642, Senate Vote #275, 7/24/07]

OBAMA ON SOCIAL SERVICES SPENDING
Obama opposes a freeze on social services spending for people with disabilities.
Obama voted against capping non-defense spending which means that social service spending for people with disabilities could continue to meet their needs. In 2005, Obama voted against the Inhofe amendment that would cap non-defense, non-trust fund spending. [S.1932, Senate Vote #286, 11/3/05]

MCCAIN ON SOCIAL SERVICES SPENDING

McCain promises that he will cap non-defense spending for at least one year, meaning that social services spending for people with disabilities will be capped as well.
McCain voted in favor of capping non-defense spending. In 2005, McCain voted for the Inhofe amendment that would cap non-defense and non-trust fund spending. [S.1932, Senate Vote #286, 11/3/05]
McCain proposed a freeze of discretionary spending as illustrated when he said, “As president, I will also order a prompt and thorough review of the budgets of every federal program, department, and agency. While that top-to-bottom review is underway, we will institute a one-year pause in discretionary spending increases with the necessary exemption of military spending and veterans’ benefits.” [McCain Remarks on the Economy at Carnegie Mellon University, 4/15/08]

OBAMA ON HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

Obama will sign universal health care into law by the end of his first term in office, and he has supported expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (“SCHIP”) and health care programs for people with disabilities, children, and veterans.
Under Obama’s plan to provide universal health insurance, insurance companies will not be able to stop individuals from getting coverage even if they have pre-existing conditions and disabilities. Obama’s plan allows individuals and businesses to purchase public or private health coverage through a national health insurance exchange. Obama’s plan would make health care more affordable and accessible to all Americans, particularly individuals who have been denied coverage in the private market due to a pre-existing condition or disability. [Obama Plan to Empower Individuals with Disabilities]
Obama is a co-sponsor of ending the Medicare Waiting Period Act of 2007 (S.2102). Before they can get Medicare coverage, people with disabilities must first receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for 24 months. Due to the 24-month Medicare waiting period, an estimated 400,000 Americans with disabilities are uninsured and many more are underinsured at a time in their lives when they need health coverage the most. During this waiting period, many individuals develop secondary conditions, their health status worsens and many die. Obama supports legislation that would phase out this harmful waiting period and provide individuals with health insurance. [S.2102, 110th Congress]
Obama supported expanded health insurance for children. In 2007, Obama voted to reauthorize the SCHIP at over $60 billion for five years. Two children who live with a single parent who makes $51,510 would have access to health insurance coverage under SCHIP. The bill would provide $100 million in new grants to fund state outreach and enrollment efforts and allocate $49 million for a demonstration project to streamline the enrollment process for low-income children already eligible for coverage. [HR 976, Senate Vote #307, 8/2/07]
Obama supported assuring accessible health care to people with disabilities by co-sponsoring the Promoting Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities Act (S.1050) The bill would require the U.S. Access Board to establish access standards for all diagnostic equipment (examination tables, x-ray, mammography and other radiological equipment, etc.). It also educates physicians and dentists by requiring that medical schools, dental schools, and their residency programs provide training to improve competency and clinical skills in providing care to patients with disabilities (including those with intellectual disabilities) as a condition of receiving federal funds. Finally, it establishes a national wellness grant program which will authorize funding for programs or activities for smoking cessation, weight control, nutrition or fitness that are tailored to the needs of individuals with disabilities and authorize funding for preventive health screening programs for individuals with disabilities to reduce the incidence of secondary conditions. [S.1050, 110th Congress]
Obama supported expanding health care for veterans.

➢ In 2005, Obama voted for providing an additional $500 million per year for the next five years for mental health services for veterans. [S.2020, Senate Vote #343, 11/17/05]

➢ In 2006, Obama voted in favor of adding $430 million for outpatient and inpatient health care and treatment for veterans. Nearly half of the military servicemen and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will require health care services for the physical and psychological traumas of war, yet the Bush administration and Republican-led Congress have underfunded the Veterans Administration’s medical services by at least $1.2 billion for 2007 alone. And, this was the second consecutive year they had done so. [H.R.4939, Senate Vote #98, 4/26/06; The Independent Budget, A Budget for Veterans by Veterans, 2/10/06; Newsweek, 1/19/06]

Obama voted to grant access to Medicaid for Hurricane Katrina victims for up to five months. The bill would have provided full federal funding for Medicaid in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama for up to one year and provided $800 million to help people who were caring for Katrina evacuees. [S.1932, Senate Vote #285, 11/3/05]

Obama voted for $2 million for research of traumatic brain injuries to improve imaging for traumatic brain injury testing and adapting current technologies to treat brain injuries suffered in war. [H.R.5631, S. Amdt. 4781, Senate Vote #222, 8/2/06; CQ, 8/2/06]

MCCAIN ON HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES
McCain’s health care plan does not prohibit discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions and disabilities. McCain’s healthcare plan would replace the existing tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health coverage with a refundable tax credit for all Americans as an incentive to purchase health insurance. However, many individuals with disabilities are denied coverage or unable to afford coverage in the private market due to pre-existing conditions and disabilities. While McCain’s plan would work with states to develop best practice models in expanding coverage to individuals who have been denied coverage, it would not prohibit discrimination. [Washington Post, 4/30/08]
McCain opposed reauthorizing SCHIP and providing insurance for millions of uninsured children. According to Knight Ridder, “The [2007] Senate proposal would provide coverage to 3.2 million” uninsured children and renew coverage for the 6 million children already covered by the program. The legislation passed 68-31. [H.R. 976, Vote #307, 8/2/07; Knight Ridder, 8/2/07]
McCain voted against $2 million of funding for research of traumatic brain injuries. McCain rejected legislation that would help improve imaging for traumatic brain injury testing and adapting current technologies to treat brain injuries suffered in war. [H.R.5631, S. Amdt. 4781, Senate Vote #222, 8/2/06; CQ, 8/2/06]

McCain opposed expanding health care for veterans.

➢ In 2005, McCain voted against providing an additional $500 million per year for the next five years for mental health services for veterans. [S.2020, Senate Vote #343, 11/17/05]

➢ In 2006, McCain was one of 13 senators who voted against adding $430 million for outpatient and inpatient health care and treatment for veterans. Amendment passed 84-16. [H.R.4939, Vote #98, 4/26/06]

McCain voted against granting access to Medicaid for Hurricane Katrina victims for up to five months. The Bill would have provided full federal funding for Medicaid in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama for up to one year and provided $800 million to help people who were caring for Katrina evacuees. [S.1932, Senate Vote #285, 11/3/05]

McCain has not co-sponsored the Promoting Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities Act (S.1050)

OBAMA ON CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

Obama strongly supports the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Restoration Act. Indeed, he signed on as an original co-sponsor of the Senate version of the ADA Restoration Act. [S.1050, 110th Congress]

Obama will appoint judges who exhibit empathy for individuals with disabilities. “Barack Obama will appoint judges and justices who respect Congress’ role as a co-equal, democratically elected branch of government and who exhibit empathy with what it means to be an American with a disability” [Obama Plan To Empower Individuals With Disabilities]

MCCAIN ON CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

While McCain has also co-sponsored the ADA Restoration Act, he has promised to appoint judges like those who interpreted the ADA narrowly and deprived millions of people with disabilities of their civil rights. McCain said that as president, he would “appoint strict constructionist judges.” [AP, 8/7/07] “In an address at Wake Forest University, McCain pledged to nominate jurists who believe ‘there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power’…By way of example, McCain said he would look for people in the cast of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., and his friend the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. He called them ‘jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference.’” [Los Angeles Times, 5/7/08]

OBAMA ON MEDICARE ELIGIBILITY

In 2007, Obama voted against increasing Medicare Part D premiums for beneficiaries making over $80,000 annually. Obama voted against the Ensign Amendment that would require Medicare prescription drugs beneficiaries with annual incomes over $80,000 and couples with annual incomes over $160,000 to pay a larger share of their Medicare Part D premium.[SCR 21, Senate Vote #93, 3/22/07]

Obama opposed means testing for Medicare. In response to a NCPSSM questionnaire, Obama said, “The bill added ‘means testing’ to Part B of Medicare, requiring individuals with incomes over $80,000 to pay gradually higher premiums. This undermines the basic premise of Medicare as an insurance program for all Americans and could cause wealthier and healthier people to leave the Medicare program.” [NCPSSM Questionnaire; Citizen Action Illinois Questionnaire, SEIU Questionnaire]

MCCAIN ON MEDICARE ELIGIBILITY

McCain voted to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. In 1997, McCain voted in favor of raising the eligibility age for receiving Medicare from 65 to 67 with the change being phased in between 2003 and 2027. The motion passed 62-38. [S 947, Vote #112, 6/24/97]

OBAMA ON MENTAL HEALTH PARITY

Obama is a long-time supporter of mental health parity legislation, having passed the Illinois Mental Health Parity Law. He also co-sponsored the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007. Obama co-sponsored a bill to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Public Health Service Act to require a group health plan that provides both medical and surgical benefits and mental health benefits to ensure that: (1) the financial requirements applicable to such mental health benefits are no more restrictive than those of substantially all medical and surgical benefits covered by the plan, including deductibles and copayments; and (2) the treatment limitations applicable to such mental health benefits are no more restrictive than those applied to substantially all medical and surgical benefits covered by the plan, including limits on the frequency of treatments or similar limits on the scope or duration of treatment. The bill prohibited the plan from establishing separate cost sharing requirements that are applicable only with respect to mental health benefits. [110th, S.558, Introduced 2/12/07; HELP Report, 4/11/07]

Obama co-sponsored and voted for a mental health parity bill that requires coverage for serious mental illnesses to be provided on the same terms and conditions as other illnesses and diseases. [92nd GA; SB 1341; 2001; Signed into law 7/27/01, PA 92-0185]

MCCAIN ON MENTAL HEALTH PARITY

McCain’s health care plan would eliminate the mental health parity requirements in 45 states. [Wall Street Journal, 10/11/07; SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures (http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/hmolaws.htm), accessed 7/30/07; Council for Affordable Health Insurance, accessed 7/30/07 (http://www.cahi.org/cahi_contents/resources/pdf/MandatePub2007.pdf)%5D

OBAMA ON AUTISM

Obama will increase federal funding for outreach and support services for people on the autism spectrum. Specifically, “Obama will seek to increase federal ASD funding for research, treatment, screenings, public awareness, and support services to $1 billion annually by the end of his first term in office. Obama will also continue to work with parents, physicians, providers, researchers, and schools to create opportunities and effective solutions for people with ASD.” [Obama Plan Supporting Americans with Autism Spectrum Disorders]
Obama is a co-sponsor of the Expanding the Promise to Individuals with Autism Act (S.937) which would

improve services and supports for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families. It would build upon programs within the Developmental Disabilities Act to increase interdisciplinary training of professionals, development and dissemination of evidence-based autism treatments, interventions, supports and services for children and adults, and protection and advocacy. [S.937, 110th Congress]

MCCAIN ON AUTISM

McCain has not taken a leading role to expand services and supports for people with autism. McCain has not co-sponsored the Expanding the Promise to Individuals with Autism Act (S.937). [S.937, 110th Congress]

McCain says he will work to advance federal autism research. “As President, John McCain will work to advance federal research into autism, promote early screening, and identify better treatment options, while providing support for children with autism so that they may reach their full potential.” [McCain Statement on Combating Autism in America]

OBAMA ON VOTING RIGHTS FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

Obama supports fully funding the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) so that we can ensure all polling places are accessible. His administration would also assure better enforcement of federal disability rights laws – from HAVA to the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act to the ADA – to make sure the right of Americans with disabilities to vote is fully protected. [Obama Plan to Empower Individuals with Disabilities]

MCCAIN ON VOTING RIGHTS FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

In 2002, McCain voted repeatedly against the Help America Vote Act, which was offered to correct problems in the election system and impose detailed voting-procedure requirements on the states. McCain voted for

final passage of the bill. [S.565, Senate Vote #39, 3/1/02; S.565, Senate Vote #Vote 40, 3/4/02; H.R.3295, Senate Vote #238, 10/16/02]

OBAMA ON VETERANS WITH DISABILITIES

The Disabled America Veterans (DAV) gave Obama an 80% rating in 2006. [Project Vote Smart]

MCCAIN ON VETERANS WITH DISABILITIES

McCain voted with the Disabled American Veterans 20% of the time. Factcheck.org: “However, he is correct in that McCain doesn’t have a perfect score with DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a group of 1.3 million disabled veterans that supports more funding for veterans health care. McCain has a 20 percent record of voting the way DAV would like him to in 2006…Senators were evaluated on five votes for amendments that would have increased funding for veterans’ health care.”

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