Tracking The HealthCare Reform Debate

 *HealthCare Reform: What's In It For Disabled Persons?
As US President Barack Obama fights a very strong and partisan campaign of misinformation by the Republicans , the White House issues a series of reality checks, including busting the myth that one part of the House bill puts off care for the disabled for further study. Watch the video here.

Disabled Woman Bullied At Healthcare Town Hall Meeting

Townhall meetings across the United States on the subject of Healthcare and Insurance Reform have degenerated into partisan shouting-matches, largely due to the presence of bused-in Republican disrupters who simply try to drown out any discussion or debate. A new low for these meetings was set when the crowd shouted down a wheelchair-bound woman with "two incurable auto-immune diseases" who, in their minds, obviously had the gall to ask a question. Read more here.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide: The Right To Good Health Care

Dr. Neva Bartholomew was doing the job she loved, working as a primary care physician, serving families she knew personally – until the red tape of US health insurance companies forced her out of the field. David Marcovitz is a second-year medical school student at Vanderbilt University in the US. David plans on becoming a primary care physician, and he reflects on what US health insurance reform – and Dr. Bartholemew’s story - mean for his career and his hopes to get out of debt.

Listen to the program here >>

More Full Coverage Pages On Healthcare/Health Insurance Reform @:

The Lighter Side Of The US HealthCare Debate

From The Huffington Post on the Healthcare Reform Town Hall Meetings that have been turned into screaming shoutfests:

'The disruptions have even led to outbreaks of violence and death threats to groups participating in the events.

Of course, these folks are not acting out on their own, but
getting their misinformation from leaders such as Sarah Palin who insists Obama's plan includes "death panels," and Rush Limbaugh who said that "Obama's health care logo"
(which does not yet exist) looks like a swastika.'

Jon Stewart takes on these uprisings. Watch here >>

The Hope of A New Era of Equality

"It is the same thing that gave me hope from the day we began this campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago; a belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together — Democrats, Republicans and independents; Latino, Asian and Native American; black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not — then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process."

The words of Barack Obama from the 'We Are One Concert', Sunday, January 18, 2009:

Never before in the history of the modern world has there been such a level of hopeful expectation at the inauguration of a new President of the United States of America. Much has been made of certain historical parallels between the election of John F. Kennedy and Barack H. Obama, but while JFK's election raised the hopes of a younger generation for more relevant government, the election of Barack Obama is a completely different paradigm for a generation of people who have grown up without 'color charts' and who have accepted the people around them for, as Dr. King said, for the 'strength of their character' , rather than for the color of their skin, or if they can't see as well or walk as well as the rest of us.

While the arc of the civil rights movement has been superimposed by others onto the Obama campaign, those on team Oabama have been consistent with their message: "It's up to each and every one of us to, as Gandhi said, 'be the change you wish to see'.

As now President Obama has said, "This is what I believed, but you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day I walk into that Oval Office — the voices of men and women who have different stories but hold common hopes; who ask only for what was promised us as Americans — that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did."

For disabled people around the world, the inauguration of President Obama heralds a new era in which people are truly viewed for the the character they possess within , rather than for the color of their skin, or whether a physical or mental disability has made them slightly different from their fellow citizens.

Obama Administration Declares Disability Policy Priorities

"We must build a world free of unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination.... policies must be developed, attitudes must be shaped, and buildings and organizations must be designed to ensure that everyone has a chance to get the education they need and live independently as full citizens in their communities."

-- Barack Obama, April 11, 2008

Barack Obama and Joe Biden have a comprehensive agenda to empower individuals with disabilities in order to equalize opportunities for all Americans.

In addition to reclaiming America's global leadership on this issue by becoming a signatory to -- and having the Senate ratify -- the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the plan has four parts, designed to provide lifelong support and resources to Americans with disabilities. They are as follows:

First, provide Americans with disabilities with the educational opportunities they need to succeed by funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, supporting early intervention for children with disabilities and universal screening, improving college opportunities for high school graduates with disabilities, and making college more affordable. Obama and Biden will also authorize a comprehensive study of students with disabilities and issues relating to transition to work and higher education.

Second, end discrimination and promote equal opportunity by restoring the Americans with Disabilities Act, increasing funding for enforcement, supporting the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, ensuring affordable, accessible health care for all and improving mental health care.

Third, increase the employment rate of workers with disabilities by effectively implementing regulations that require the federal government and its contractors to employ people with disabilities, providing private-sector employers with resources to accommodate employees with disabilities, and encouraging those employers to use existing tax benefits to hire more workers with disabilities and supporting small businesses owned by people with disabilities.

And fourth, support independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities by enforcing the Community Choice Act, which would allow Americans with significant disabilities the choice of living in their community rather than having to live in a nursing home or other institution, creating a voluntary, budget-neutral national insurance program to help adults who have or develop functional disabilities to remain independent and in their communities, and streamline the Social Security approval process .


President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed to supporting Americans with Autism Spectrum Disorders (“ASD”), their families, and their communities. There are a few key elements to their support, which are as follows:

  • First, President Obama and Vice President Biden support increased funding for autism research, treatment, screenings, public awareness, and support services. There must be research of the treatments for, and the causes of, ASD.
  • Second, President Obama and Vice President Biden support improving life-long services for people with ASD for treatments, interventions and services for both children and adults with ASD.
  • Third, President Obama and Vice President Biden support funding the Combating Autism Act and working with Congress, parents and ASD experts to determine how to further improve federal and state programs for ASD.
  • Fourth, President Obama and Vice President Biden support universal screening of all infants and re-screening for all two-year-olds, the age at which some conditions, including ASD, begin to appear. These screenings will be safe and secure, and available for every American that wants them. Screening is essential so that disabilities can be identified early enough for those children and families to get the supports and services they need.

And while this historic inauguration is being celebrated by people of color around the world - there is still much work to do for achieving equality of people who face more challenges in day to day life, whether gay or straight, disabled or not, as expressed in the article below:

Public Attitude Toward Disabilities Took Many Years To Transform


I watched through a 21-inch window illuminating a world in black-and-white as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the civil rights movement.

I watched sitting down, not "sitting in."

I watched from a wheelchair, newly crippled by polio, mesmerized as our nation took a few tentative steps along Freedom Road after being paralyzed by racial discrimination for centuries.

It was a time when the n-word was not uncommon, when I was termed a "shut-in" and "an invalid confined to a wheelchair." And I too yearned not to be separate and unequal.

And then Dr. King stood at the Lincoln Memorial and said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Rotten segregation began to crumble. But not for me or other people with disabilities. Most of us remained isolated by inaccessible architecture, minimal higher education and employment opportunities and a patronizing preference for segregation through custodial care.

"You know, being in a wheelchair is almost like being black," I sometimes thought. I was right. And I was wrong.

A person of color and a person with a visible disability are both identifiable by appearance, of course. And I felt excluded, discriminated against not only because of lack of accessible opportunities but also because of perceptions based entirely on appearance: "Don't hire people in wheelchairs. They're sick all the time."

Even after I ventured out into the world and confronted prejudices generated by a visible disability, I understood no one would beat me, kick me out of a restaurant or deny me the right to vote. I had no understanding of the black experience. No one turned fire hoses on people with disabilities. Nor lynched us.

But when African-Americans rose up and demanded to be heard, people with disabilities remained invisible. The lucky were supported by families. Others were warehoused in nursing homes or state institutions.

King voiced his dream in 1963, and ten years later The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provided the first step toward integration for people with disabilities. Things became better with the passage of Americans with Disabilities Act in 1991, and we began to integrate ourselves into the educational sector, into businesses and professions, and even into the entertainment industry. And as more of us became visible, words and phrases like "confined to a wheelchair," "invalid" or "shut-in" began to disappear from the language.

Today we remember Jim Crow, the lynchings, the riots, the bombs and the assassinations, and we celebrate the courage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I will join in, but I will also remember heroes whose names should be written in every history book -- advocates like Justin Dart, who worked tirelessly for the Americans with Disabilities Act; Wade Blank, who had been with King at Selma and moved on to found ADAPT; Ed Roberts, the father of the disability rights movement who fought hard for everything from curb cuts to access to higher education.

There's work left, of course. And to paraphrase Dr. King, I say, "I have a dream that people with disabilities will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by what they can or cannot do but rather by the content of their character."

Op Ed Piece by Gary Presley at

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Some Disabled People Have Priorities For Obama

During his campaign, Barack Obama identified a number of significant issues that he would address during his administration. Where should he start? Some Americans with disabilities have a list priorities for Obama's first year.

Even though the economy and employment are high on everyone's list, people with disabilities have their own recommendations and suggestions about how those goals can be accomplished.

> Click here for the full story @ ABC7 Chicago

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Media Access Group at WGBH To Provide Closed Captioning And Live Description for PBS's Inaugural Coverage

Described version of coverage will also stream live on the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) web site.

Boston, MA — The Media Access Group at WGBH, a non-profit service of the WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts, will provide both closed captioning and live description of Barack Obama's presidential inauguration for the PBS presentation of Inauguration 2009, a NewsHour special hosted by Jim Lehrer.

The PBS coverage of the inauguration airs live on Tuesday, January 20 from 11AM to 1:30PM EST. While live captioning is an established feature of many television broadcasts, live description, the creation at time of air of a narration track imparting information about visual elements that people who are blind or visually impaired would miss, is a rare service. Dunkin' Donuts is generously sponsoring the description service for this broadcast.

In 1993, PBS's coverage of the Clinton inauguration was the first live television program that was made fully accessible to the nation's 36 million deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind and visually impaired viewers.

> Click here for the full story

> Click here for Descriptive Services for the Inauguration

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Economic Stimulus Package Includes Spending on Disability

The House of Representatives released its version of the economic recovery package yesterday. The Senate is likely to unveil its version next week. That bill will be S.1. Both versions are being worked on in close cooperation with the incoming Obama Administration.

In addition to $275 billion in tax cuts, the House bill, entitled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will provide $550 billion for myriad domestic programs to spur the economy, job growth and help state and local governments cope with rising deficits. This bill and a similar one in the Senate are expected to move quickly through the legislative process so that it can be signed into law by President Obama in mid-February.

There are many provisions in the bill to increase spending on disability programs. Many other funding increases to states and communities could also be utilized to provide numerous types of assistance to people with disabilities and the programs that support them.

HEALTH -- Medicaid: FMAP - $87 billion - all states receive a 4.8% increase with higher rates for states with high unemployment rates. Medicaid and Medicare regulations moratoria are extended until October, 2009.

EDUCATION -- Special Education: $13 billion for the IDEA State Grant Program and $600 million for the IDEA Part C Early Intervention Program.

EMPLOYMENT -- Vocational Rehabilitation: $500 million through the VR State Grant for construction and rehabilitation of facilities that prepare persons with disabilities for gainful employment.

INDEPENDENT LIVING -- Centers for Independent Living: $200 million to assist people with disabilities to live in their communities.