Disability Issues and Election Agendas
Friday, February 5th, 2016
Good evening everyone, and welcome back to the blog today!
As I’m sure you are all aware, this past week has been a busy one in the world of US politics. Like every American, the staff of M&L are closely following the progress of each candidate as they vie for the party nomination – and, like every American with a disability (and/or every American that has a family member/friend with a disability) we are wondering exactly how each candidate plans to improve the lives and the futures of individuals with special needs.
Recently, we came across an article from Madison House Autism Foundation President and Founder JaLynn Prince. In her article, which she describes as a “challenge” to presidential candidates, Prince touches on the fact only one candidate has released a plan to address the concerns of individuals with disabilities – Hillary Rodman Clinton and her proposal to improve the lives and futures of individuals with Autism and their families. The article, while praising Clinton for her efforts, calls for more work to be done – both in terms of Clinton’s proposal, and also on the part of the other candidates.
Here at M&L, we agree with Prince: all candidates should release proposals, or plans, on how to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. We were also very curious as to the details of Clinton’s proposal. So curious, in fact, that we decided to use today’s post to discuss this proposal, and how it could affect your family with special needs.
Intrigued? Please read on to learn more!
Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Support Children, Youth, and Adults Living with Autism and Their Families
As mentioned, Hilary Rodham Clinton released details of a proposal that was designed to address the issues and improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. The proposal, or “plan to support children, youth, and adults living with autism and their families” is a “wide-ranging autism initiative—including screening, diagnosis, treatment, services, safety and legal protections for individuals on the autism spectrum across the lifespan, steps to ensure they are treated with dignity, partnerships to help them secure employment, support for families and caregivers, and a commitment to increase research funding to deepen our understanding of autism.”
The entire plan revolves around a number of important initiatives: screening and awareness, autism treatment and insurance coverage, safety and services for children and youth, and community supports and services for individuals transitioning into adulthood, caregiving, research and enforcement. Please read on for a description of each of these 7 goals, as taken directly from www.hillaryclinton.com:
Screening and Awareness
As a part of the screening and awareness initiative, Clinton proposes to conduct a nationwide early screening outreach campaign to ensure that all children, and in particular children from underserved backgrounds, can get screened for autism; this will include directing the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide clear information to physicians and parents so that they know that all Marketplace health plans must cover autism screening at 18 and 24 months
Autism Treatment and Insurance Coverage
Clinton also proposes to enforce changes to insurance policies, and will push states to require health insurance cover for autism services in private insurance plans as well as marketplace plans offered in the state so that people with autism are not turned away. Clinton will work with states to encourage all states to include autism services, both behavioral and developmental, in requirements for health insurance plans offered in the state, on exchanges as well as in the private market. And she will work to strengthen the coverage offered so that children, youth, and adults with autism and their families can access a comprehensive range of behavioral and developmental services.
Safety and Services for Children and youth
This initiative intends to tackle the challenges that children with autism face when attempting to attend school; challenges related to safety and security. Under this initiative, Clinton intends to Enact the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which bans the use of mechanical and chemical restraints, and physical restraints that restrict breathing; restricts the use of restraint and seclusion to situations in which there is a risk of imminent physical injury to a student or others; requires reporting to parents if these are used on their children; prevents these practices from being written into IEPs as planned interventions; and requires districts to have a sufficient number of staff trained in crisis intervention and behavioral management techniques. She also intends to protect children with autism from bullying in the classroom.
Community Supports and Services for Individuals Transitioning into Adulthood
This initiative revolves around the supports and services that many individuals with autism needs as they transition into adulthood; one main tenant is to launch a new Autism Works Initiative, consisting of a post-graduation transition plan for every student with autism aging out of school-based services and a public-private partnership with employers that is designed to grow to include hundreds of firms over time. This initiative, which will bring together leaders in secondary and post-secondary education as well as in the private sector and will draw on insights from social scientists as well as non-profit institutions, will foster new pathways to adulthood for individuals with autism so they can support themselves and build the lives they want.
Caregiving, Research and Enforcement
Clinton’s caregiving, research and enforment initiatives would include ensuring that the ABLE accounts are accessible to individuals with disabilities in all states, providing training and support to new caregivers, increase the funding to autism researchers, and to call for the first ever adult autism prevalence and needs study. It would also include ensuring states meet their obligations under IDEA’s Child Find Program to identify, screen, and refer children with disabilities for services, ensuring access to assistive technologies, continuing vigorous enforcement of Olmstead, enforcing mental health parity protection and dedicating new funding to autism protection and advocacy.
For more information on Clinton’s proposal, please visit her website www.hillaryclinton.com.
Would you like more information?
Thanks so much for taking the time to visit our website and read our blog today! If you would like to learn more about this topic, we encourage you to visit Hillary Clinton’s website; we would also like to encourage you to speak out about how you would like to see the presidential candidates address the issues facing individuals with disabilities in this country.
As always, please contact us with any questions or suggestions you may have about this topic – we love hear from our readers! And please don’t forget to join us next week for a discussion of the Arc Youth Retail Transitioning Program – see you then!
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