Top Three Pressing Issues for Americans with Disabilities
The 2016 presidential and congressional elections are over, and by this point most of us know who will represent us in Washington next year. Without a doubt, this has been a very heated and contentious election season, and – like in previous years – Americans can only hope that all three branches of government will work together for the good of the nation. As the largest minority group in the United States, people with disabilities continue to face several pressing issues that we would like our elected representatives to address. These are the top three topics that are most important to people with disabilities all over the country.
Better Healthcare Access
Programs like Medicaid and Medicare are often the only type of health insurance people with disabilities have. Unfortunately, not all health providers accept these forms of insurance, particularly Medicaid, which is provided to people who are disabled, blind or older than 65 with limited incomes. Unfortunately, few hospitals and clinics accept this form of insurance, making it difficult for individuals with disabilities to have adequate and timely access to health care. This is especially pressing given the high unemployment rate among people with disabilities, who depend on programs like Social Security and Medicaid to get by.
Improvements to Social Security
This has been a longstanding topic of concern to people with disabilities. Most people are not aware, but individuals with disabilities who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have set limits on what they can make on the job. Furthermore, SSI recipients can only have up to $2,000 in order to qualify for this program. In 2014, Congress passed the ABLE Act, which will allow Medicaid and SSI recipients to create special savings accounts where they can save money without jeopardizing their benefits. I and thousands of other individuals with disabilities and their families applaud this legislation, but feel much more needs to be done to improve the system.
Funding for Programs Supporting People with Disabilities
In Illinois as in many other states, recent budget cuts have affected, or even eliminated altogether programs and services for people with disabilities. These include day programs for those with developmental disabilities, vocational services and other programs providing information and resources to these individuals and their families. In Illinois, for example, centers for independent living throughout the state are being negatively impacted by the lack of funds. These centers are crucial for people with disabilities, as they help them find valuable information and resources on how to become more independent.
The government should work together with the disabled community to address these issues. They are topics often overlooked by the general public and politicians, but are extremely important to people with disabilities and their families. Until the government addresses these problems, people with disabilities will continue to experience the negative consequences. Finding solutions not only benefits this population, but also the community at large. What other disability related concerns should our newly elected government address? Please share your thoughts!
Sandy Murillo works at The Chicago Lighthouse, an organization serving the blind and visually impaired. She is the author of Sandy’s View, a bi-weekly Lighthouse blog about blindness and low vision. The blog covers topics of interest to those living with blindness and vision impairments. Being a blind journalist and blogger herself, Sandy shares her unique perspective about ways to live and cope with vision loss.