I have long been committed to fighting for the civil rights of people with disabilities in our community so that everyone is able to participate and engage in our society while enjoying an independent lifestyle. As Representative of the 1st district of Pennsylvania, I will be committed to the following:
Strengthening the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
A true bipartisan achievement, the ADA is critical civil rights legislation that ensures those in our community with disabilities are guaranteed equal opportunity. The ADA must be protected, enforced, and expanded to reflect the needs of our neighbors and family members with disabilities in the modern world.
Expanding Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and Access to Community- and home-based Services
More than 10 million Americans with disabilities rely on Medicaid to cover home and community–based services, and cuts to the program endanger their ability to live independently. Policies like the Disability Integration Act (DIA), currently being considered by the House and Senate, are crucial as they will allow Americans with disabilities to remain out of institutions and actively participating in their communities.
Fighting for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Integrated Classroom Learning
The IDEA promises accessibility and equal opportunities to K-12 education for students with disabilities. In order for students with disabilities to succeed in society, the education system in the US must ensure that support and tools such as Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are available. The US Congress has agreed to support 40 percent of the average cost for each student‘s accessibility needs, but is currently failing to cover even 20 percent. This has to change. Students with disabilities also have a right to integrated classroom learning in the least restrictive environment so that they are able to learn along with their peers and be competitive applicants for jobs in their chosen fields.
Promoting Employment Incentives
People with disabilities are unemployed at more than double the rate of those without disabilities. Even after achieving high levels of education or years of experience, systematic disincentives such as Medicaid income caps pose barriers to all people with disabilities who want to work without losing access to their healthcare and community–based services. People with disabilities should be allowed to buy into Medicaid and other essential supports while succeeding in their career fields.
We need to ensure that there is not an artificial ceiling imposed upon those with disabilities who wish to advance in their careers. For our younger generation, I support incentives for schools and businesses to hire teenage students with disabilities and encourage working with the National Youth Transitions Collaborative to increase employment for teenagers and young adults with disabilities.
Providing Transportation Solutions for the Underserved
Roughly 8.9 million people with disabilities live in rural areas where they are not granted access to transportation to engage with their communities. Transportation is key to an independent lifestyle and policies must be set in place to incentivize accessibility of transportation options outside of urban centers