WORKING DISABLED: Work Incentives Improvement Act Enacted
Saying that work is "at the heart of the American dream," President Clinton signed the W ork Incentives Improvement Act into law Friday, expanding Medicaid and Medicare so that those with disabilities can continue to receive health insurance coverage once they return to work, AP/Investor's Business Daily reports. Clinton signed the bill in the shadow of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial as a tribute to the former president who struggled with disability (12/20). Advocates have called the act the "most significant step for the disabled since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990." Introducing Clinton, James Sullivan, a 38-year-old who became disabled two days before his 18th birthday, said, "This system, which basically makes people stay at home and punishes them when they work, is a crazy one. There is an untapped population of Americans with disabilities who are dying to get back to work." Under the current system, fewer than 1% of the 8 million disabled individuals receiving Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income, work (Lacey, New York Times, 12/18). The AP/Washington Post reports that it is not known how many of the 9 million disabled adults who receive Medicare or Medicaid will benefit from the new law. The law provides $150 million in grants to "encourage states to let disabled workers buy into Medicaid" and creates a $250 million Medicaid "buy-in demonstration" for those who are not so severely disabled that they cannot work. Medicare coverage will be extended for four-and-a-half years for those in the disability insurance program who return to work. Disability beneficiaries would also receive a voucher to purchase either private or government health care services. The law also increases to 550,000 the number of disabled who can receive rehabilitation and training services over the next 10 years (12/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.