Mira la grabación: Univisión Noticias presenta Destino 2020

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Mira la grabación: Univisión Noticias presenta Destino 2020

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Fighting for Disability Rights

Issues

Fighting for Disability Rights

As we near the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we need a president who will champion both protecting and expanding the rights of the tens of millions of Americans with disabilities. As president, Bernie will not only put forward aggressive disability policy proposals designed to promote access, autonomy, inclusion and self-determination for all, but will also incorporate disability issues into every other area of public policy.

Bernie Signature

Key Points

  • Guaranteeing health care, including mental health care and home- and community-based services and supports without waitlists, asset or income restrictions, as a human right to everyone in America.
  • Protecting and expanding the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs by reversing the Trump Administration’s attack on SSDI/SSI, ending the massive disability application backlog, putting a stop to SSI’s draconian asset test and marriage penalty, and raising the SSI benefit level to 125 percent of the poverty level, lifting millions out of poverty.
  • Aggressively enforcing the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, including for people with mental illness. As President, Sanders will work to enforce the Supreme Court’s landmark Olmstead decision protecting the rights of people with disabilities to get support in the community. The plan places particular priority on the humanitarian crisis in our country created by the incarceration of people with mental illness, leveraging Olmstead to ensure states fund the voluntary, community-based mental health services that can save lives and keep people in the community.
  • Providing mandatory funding to ensure that the federal government provides at least 50 percent of the funding for serving students with disabilities, exceeding the federal government’s original commitment of 40 percent when IDEA was passed. The plan also provides schools with 100 percent of the additional costs of serving students with disabilities in the general education classroom above the cost of average per pupil expenditures.
  • Using executive authority to reject both renewals of and new proposals from states to place disability and aging services under the control of for-profit managed care organizations, including reversing Iowa’s disastrous experiment with for-profit Medicaid privatization.
  • Create a National Office of Disability Coordination, run by a person with a disability, focused on coordinating and making disability policy to advance the full inclusion of people with disabilities, including ensuring every aspect of our public resources are ADA compliant and that the civil rights of people with disabilities are protected and expanded.
  • Ending subminimum wage for workers with disabilities while guaranteeing jobs and living wages in the community for all.
  • Passing the Disability Integration Act, to establish a clear standard for the delivery of high-quality services.

Details

Disability Rights Are Civil Rights

From the beginning of American history, people with disabilities have been a part of our country. Often segregated and ignored, the disability community has fought for equality, inclusion and access to the American dream. These efforts have been crucial to building the best parts of our country – and are just as important to building the future we want.

It’s time for us to acknowledge that disability rights are civil rights, and that a society that does not center the voices and needs of people with disabilities has yet to fulfill its most basic obligations.

As we near the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we need a president who will champion both protecting and expanding the rights of the tens of millions of Americans with disabilities. As president, Bernie will not only put forward aggressive disability policy proposals designed to promote access, autonomy, inclusion and self-determination for all, but will also incorporate disability issues into every other area of public policy, including housing, health care, education, transportation, technology and many others. Bernie will create a National Office of Disability Coordination, run by a person with a disability, focused on coordinating and making disability policy to advance the full inclusion of people with disabilities, including ensuring every aspect of our public resources are ADA compliant and that the civil rights of people with disabilities are protected and expanded.

Despite the progress that has been made over the past two decades, we unfortunately still live in a world where people with disabilities have fewer work opportunities, experience much higher rates of poverty, and where the civil rights of people with disabilities are not always protected and respected.

Bernie believes that, as a nation, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that all Americans have the support they need to live with dignity.

Disability rights will factor into virtually every area of policy-making in a Bernie Sanders administration.

Using Executive Action to Advance Disability Rights

Not only will Bernie pass Medicare for All, the Disability Integration Act, and other crucial legislative priorities, Bernie will take bold and necessary executive action to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Bernie intends to use the power of the executive to make major disability policy advancements.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Appoint a person with a disability to serve as Senior Advisor on Disability Policy on the White House Domestic Policy Council. The motto of the disability rights movement is “Nothing About Us, Without Us.” With that in mind, Bernie will appoint a person with a disability with experience in disability rights advocacy as Senior Advisor to the President on Disability Policy, sitting on the White House Domestic Policy Council. This will ensure that disability policy will be a priority for the Sanders Administration and that a disability rights perspective will be incorporated into all areas of domestic policy.
  • Instruct the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reject both renewals of and new proposals for placing disability and aging services under the control of for-profit managed care organizations. Across the country, states are contracting out the operation of their Medicaid Long Term Services and Supports programs to for-profit insurance companies. As Iowans have discovered from the state’s disastrous Medicaid Managed Care implementation, handing over control of Medicaid-funded disability and aging services to for-profit companies puts people with disabilities and older Americans at serious risk. Most managed care implementations require federal approval prior to proceeding. As president, Bernie will instruct CMS to withhold approval from any state managed care application that proposes to place disability and aging services under the control of for-profit insurers and to deny renewals for for-profit managed care arrangements. These services are simply too important to be placed in the hands of for-profit corporate insurance companies.
  • Reverse the Trump administration’s disgraceful attack on the ability of home care workers to come together in a union and raise wages and workforce standards. States have developed innovative arrangements to ensure that workers providing self-directed services to people with disabilities and older adults are still able to form a union. Unfortunately, in May 2019, the Trump administration issued regulations that attacks home care workers' ability to use automatic paycheck deductions for union dues, health insurance contributions and other common expenses. As president, Bernie will reverse the Trump administration’s disgraceful attack on the collective bargaining rights of home care workers.
  • Issue an executive order requiring any state applying for Medicaid 1115 demonstration waivers to include a plan for eliminating their waiting list for 1915(c) home and community-based services within a five-year period. Unfortunately, Medicaid currently possesses an institutional bias that permits states to run waiting lists that can force people with disabilities and older adults to wait for years to access vital services to allow them to survive and thrive in the community. Under Medicare for All, this will no longer be the case. But we know that people with disabilities shouldn’t have to wait for Congress to act. States use Medicaid 1115 demonstration waivers to experiment with new approaches in Medicaid that differ from federal statute. As president, Bernie will issue an executive order requiring any state applying for a new Medicaid 1115 demonstration waiver to include a plan to eliminate their waiting list for home and community-based services within a five-year period after approval. He will also instruct CMS to refuse any Medicaid 1115 demonstration waiver coming from a state that does not possess a realistic plan to end their waiting list within that time period.
  • Vigorously enforce the Home and Community Based Settings Rule. In 2014, the Obama Administration issued a new Home and Community Based Settings Rule providing for crucial protections for people with disabilities, requiring that every state ensure that people with disabilities have such basic liberties respected as the right to choose where and with whom to live, when to wake up and go to sleep, the ability to have visitors in their own home and much more. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has delayed and weakened implementation of this rule. Bernie will instruct CMS to issue new guidance articulating more robust standards for enforcement of the Settings Rule, including requiring each state to establish a mechanism for individual complaints and investigation of violations of the rights articulated within the rule.
  • Issue an executive order leveraging the federal government’s role as a model employer to drastically increase disability employment efforts. While employment opportunity was central to the goals of the ADA, only four out of ten working-age people with disabilities are employed. To help address the unemployment and under-employment of people with disabilities, Bernie will issue an executive order instructing federal agencies to expand their hiring of workers with disabilities utilizing the Schedule A Hiring Authority.
  • Instruct the Department of Labor to issue new regulations expanding the federal government’s role as a model contractor to promote disability employment. Bernie will also instruct the Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to devote more resources to the aggressive enforcement of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, encouraging federal contractors to hire workers with disabilities, and issue new regulations raising the Section 503 utilization goal for federal contractor hiring of people with disabilities to more closely reflect the proportion of people with disabilities in the general population, and introduce a new sub-goal for workers with targeted disabilities, aligning implementation with the definition of competitive integrated employment in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  • Instruct the Department of Justice and the HHS Office of Civil Rights to issue new rules protecting people with disabilities against health care discrimination. Thirty years after the ADA, people with disabilities still face significant discrimination in a wide variety of areas. In areas like organ transplant discrimination, medical futility determinations and the inaccessibility of medical equipment, people with disabilities often experience unacceptable prejudice and inequitable treatment when seeking the care to which they should have a right. To remedy this, Bernie will instruct the Department of Justice to make the Access Board’s Medical Diagnostic Equipment standards mandatory for health care providers, pursuant to its authority under Titles II and III of the ADA. Bernie will also instruct the HHS Office of Civil Rights to issue regulations protecting people with disabilities from discrimination in organ transplants, medical futility determinations and other areas of potential health care discrimination.
  • Issue an executive order instructing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to incorporate people with disabilities into their definitions of Medically Underserved Populations. Though people with disabilities face serious health disparities, they are not incorporated in existing federal definitions of a Medically Underserved Population. This deprives people with disabilities of a variety of funding preferences and loan repayment programs designed to target health care resources to populations that have access to this designation in order to close disparities. As president, Bernie will instruct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate people with disabilities as a Medically Underserved Population across programs, enabling access to funding priorities and loan repayment programs dependent on this designation.
  • Begin rule making process to overturn President Trump’s so-called “public charge” rule to ensure our system does not discriminate on the basis of income or disability and that immigrants do not have to fear endangering their immigration status in order to access basic supports and services.
  • Reverse the Trump administration’s cruel eligibility rule for SSI and SSDI.

Bernie will also appoint an Attorney General who will ensure that the Department of Justice will vigorously enforce the Olmstead decision, building on the important work done under the Obama Administration to challenge states that segregate people with disabilities into institutions through inadequate supports and waiting lists for home and community based services. This will include:

  • Protecting the rights of people with disabilities to access integrated employment services. In October 2016, the Obama administration broke new ground in advancing the rights of people with disabilities by issuing guidance on applying the Olmstead decision, which requires states to offer services to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting, to employment services. Unfortunately, in December 2017, the Trump administration withdrew this guidance. We will restore this Olmstead guidance on including people with disabilities in the workplace and make advancing integrated employment a high priority for the Department of Justice’s Olmstead enforcement.
  • Leveraging the Olmstead decision to divert people with mental illness out of jails and prisons and into the community. Recognizing the humanitarian crisis in our country created by the incarceration of people with mental illness, we will use the Olmstead decision to challenge states that have failed to adequately support the voluntary, community-based mental health services that can divert people with mental illness from ending up in the criminal justice system.
  • Prioritizing accountability in law enforcement interactions with people with disabilities. All too often, people with disabilities, especially people of color with disabilities, face violence from law enforcement. This requires more than just training – it requires accountability. Approximately half of all people who die in police-involved shootings have a disability. In order to protect the rights of people with disabilities, we intend to make discriminatory law enforcement interactions with people with disabilities a major enforcement priority of the Civil Rights Division and dedicate staff to focus specifically on this problem.

In addition to using executive action, Bernie will advance a comprehensive disability policy program:

1. Guaranteeing the Right to Community Living

People with disabilities and older adults are a part of our shared community, and deserve the same rights and opportunities as any other American. Unfortunately, despite decades of activism from disability rights advocates, much remains to be done to fully welcome everyone into the mainstream of community life.

Twenty-nine years after the Americans with Disabilities Act and 20 years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Olmstead decision, more than 700,000 people with disabilities and older adults are on waiting lists to receive the home and community-based services they need. Many who need services are not even able to access the wait list, due to oppressive asset and income restrictions that force those with disabilities to spend their lives in poverty.

Medicaid – the leading payer for long-term services and supports in this country – has a longstanding institutional bias. Because Medicaid requires states to make available nursing home and institutional care immediately, but forces people with disabilities to wait years to get access to services in their own homes and communities, many end up institutionalized even as they desperately wish to remain in the community. No one should have to choose between being taken out of their homes and communities or being denied the support they need to survive and thrive.

What’s more, our profit-driven corporate health care system is threatening the lives and freedom of people with disabilities and older adults already in the community by underpaying home care workers and contracting out the operation of state Medicaid programs to for-profit insurance companies that deny access to the services people need to survive and thrive. Profit-driven health care is failing our people. Our country deserves better.

Many of these flaws are the result of the inconsistent and inadequate way in which policymakers have approached disability and aging services, treating the needs of the more than 13 million Americans with long term services and supports needs and their families as secondary to broader discussions of health policy. This has a grave impact on those who need support – and on those who provide it.

The home care workers who assist people with disabilities and older adults provide vital services at a rate of compensation at or only slightly above the minimum wage. This creates an unsustainable dynamic, leading to high turnover rates and poverty for those providing vital services to people with disabilities and older adults.

This status quo has grave consequences for marginalized communities. The majority of home care workers are people of color, and nearly 9 in 10 are women. Over half of the home care workforce has not completed any formal education beyond high school. Almost one-third of home care workers are immigrants. Our lack of investment in these workers does a disservice to the people they support and reflects systemic bias on the basis of race, gender and class. To make matters worse, the Trump administration has recently made it harder for many home care workers to be represented by a union.

Together, we will ensure that every American who needs it can be supported in their own home by workers that are compensated at fair wages.

Long-Term Services and Supports within Medicare for All

Because health reform that fails to include disability and aging services is incomplete, Bernie worked in partnership with disability advocates to build a framework for ensuring that the needs of people with disabilities and older adults are met within Medicare for All. As president, Bernie will ensure that everyone can get the support they need to survive and thrive on their own terms:

  • We will pass the Disability Integration Act, to establish a clear standard for the delivery of high-quality services endorsed by a broad cross-section of the disability community.
  • Under Medicare for All, people with disabilities and older adults who are unable to perform without substantial assistance at least one Activity of Daily Living or who require substantial assistance with communication, social interaction, learning, self-care, self-management or other impairments that impact a person’s capacity for social or economic participation, will be entitled to receive home- and community-based services at a level necessary to ensure they can survive and thrive in the community. No asset and income restrictions will be placed on these services.
  • All people with disabilities and older Americans will possess the right to convert their existing home- and community-based services into a self-directed model of service, where those receiving support may choose who provides them with assistance. This will include the option of both employer and budget authority, at the preference of the person receiving services. This will give people receiving home- and community-based services the right to manage their own support staff, consistent with the disability rights movement’s longstanding commitment to autonomy, independence and self-determination. States will be required to work with disability rights advocates and labor unions to establish collective bargaining arrangements for workers delivering self-directed services, modeled after successful state models like the Oregon Home Health Care Commission and the California In-Home Supportive Services Statewide Authority. Such arrangements – which have recently come under attack from the Trump administration – already protect the rights of people with disabilities to self-direct their care while ensuring that workers have the opportunity to be represented by a union able to bargain for improved wages and benefits. Where collective bargaining arrangements result in wage and benefit levels above the median wage level for the geographic area, under this plan state and county government will receive a one to one federal match to fund enhancements to wages and benefits.
  • The existing Medicaid program will continue to cover skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities and other forms of currently available institutional care. To ensure that all seniors and people with disabilities have the opportunity to access community-based alternatives, we will make permanent the successful Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration program, which has helped more than 90,000 people with disabilities and older adults transition to community life over the last 14 years. MFP will provide states with additional financial assistance to assist in supporting people with disabilities and older adults to leave institutions and nursing homes, after which they will be eligible for home and community based services under Medicare for All.
  • We will establish a new robust funding stream to Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agencies to ensure that all services delivered under Medicare for All will remain safe and high-quality, tying funding levels to enrollment in the LTSS benefit to ensure that P&A agencies have the resources they need to protect the rights of all receiving services.
  • We will work with Congress and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to set minimum standards for case management and care coordination services, including maximum caseload ratios for different populations and service needs.
  • We will work with Congress to fully repeal the Electronic Visit Verification mandate, an unconscionable intrusion on the privacy and autonomy of people with disabilities that has also made it more difficult for support workers to do their jobs.
  • To assist CMS and other agencies in implementing new policy under this plan, we will propose a significant expansion of the National Council on Disability (NCD), providing the agency with an annual budget in line with other comparable independent government agencies, such as the United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC). We will also authorize NCD to establish regional offices, develop a more robust internal investigation capability and access authority and will empower the agency to play a more active role providing technical assistance to other parts of the federal government.

Investing in the Home Care Workforce

We need 7.8 million home health and personal care aides by 2026 to meet our needs. In order to meet the growing demand, we need to make direct care a quality career that pays a living wage. The people who support people with disabilities and older adults shouldn’t have to live in poverty. Home care work should not just be a job, it should be a career that people can spend their lives in while supporting themselves and their families. We will boost the wages of home care workers across the country. We’re also proposing new collective bargaining arrangements to grow the number of workers delivering these services who enjoy union representation, the swiftest path to political and economic empowerment for working Americans of all kinds.

We must ensure our care workers are afforded a living wage and a safe working environment. Bernie will provide strong protections for collective bargaining, workers’ rights, and workplace safety for all workers, including caregivers.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Pass Bernie’s Workplace Democracy plan and pass Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act to ensure our care workers are afforded a living wage and a safe working environment.
    • We will pass inclusive labor protection laws for domestic workers, who have historically been intentionally excluded to allow the exploitation of disproportionately minority and immigrant workers. This means providing domestic workers with strong protections for unionizing, sectoral collective bargaining, workers’ rights, workplace safety, and fair scheduling, regardless of immigration status, and that they have the information and tools they need to act on these rights and protections.
    • We will set wages, benefits and hours for all direct care workers, not just employer-by-employer. In addition, under this plan, all cities, counties, and other local jurisdictions would have the freedom to go beyond the minimum federal standards and establish their own higher wage floors and guarantee even stronger standards and benefits for workers. We will create an economy and a government that works for direct care workers.
    • We will provide paid direct care training to workers in the field and also expand direct care training through union training fund programs, public colleges, trade schools and apprenticeship programs to help train the workforce we need.
    • Direct care workers, who are overwhelmingly women – in particular, women of color and immigrants – too often do not receive health insurance through their employment. We will guarantee them high-quality health care under Medicare for All.
    • We will provide direct care workers guaranteed vacation leave, sick leave and family and medical leave.

Family Caregivers

We will also give the tools and assistance needed to the more than 43 million family caregivers in this country.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Enact the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act to compensate the more than 43 million unpaid caregivers for their work.
  • Expand access to caregiving programs provided by the Older Americans Act (OAA). OAA provides critical funding for a wide variety of social and legal services such as home-delivered meals, employment opportunities for low-income seniors, and caregiver support. The National Family Caregiver Support Program provides caregiver counseling, training, support groups, and respite care so caregivers can have a break for a few hours to help avoid burnout.
  • Ensure that every family caregiver is able to receive compensation for their labor through self-directed services if that is the preference of the individual with a disability receiving support.
  • Make available a national entitlement for in-home respite care for all people with disabilities and families who desire it. In doing so, we will build on the values framework established in the Developmental Disabilities Act and the Older Americans Act.
  • Make available to family caregivers training and enhanced case management services upon request to better support them in managing any complex care needs that may emerge.

2. Health Care for All

Today, 11 percent of people with disabilities are uninsured. One-third of adults with disabilities ages 18 to 44 skipped receiving the care they need because of cost. One-fourth of adults with disabilities did not have a check-up in the past year. It is time for the United States to join every other major country on Earth and guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare for All program.

It is past time that we protect Americans with disabilities from the greed and cruelty of the corporate health care industry. Medicare for All will create a single-payer, national health insurance program to provide every resident in the United States comprehensive coverage. Medicare for All means guaranteed health care, no matter what. Freedom and security. No networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills.

Bernie will introduce his Medicare for All bill in during his first week in office.We will build the movement necessary to pass Medicare for All and guarantee health care as a human right.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Guarantee health care as a human right by enacting Medicare for All. The plan would:
    • Guarantee home- and community-based services, assistive technologies and mental health care to all, without waitlists or asset or income restrictions. Medicare for All covers everyone’s health care needs. This includes: hospital services, including inpatient drugs; outpatient care; primary care and preventive services, including treatment of illnesses; prescription drugs, medical devices, and biological products; mental health and substance abuse treatment, including inpatient care; lab and diagnostic services; hearing aids; comprehensive reproductive, maternity, and newborn care; pediatrics; dental and vision, including dentures and eyeglasses; rehabilitative services and devices; emergency services and transportation; home- and community-based long-term services and supports; and more.
    • Stop the pharmaceutical industry from ripping off people with disabilities by making sure that no one in America pays more than $200 a year for the medicine they need by capping what Americans pay for prescription drugs.
    • Provide transportation for individuals with disabilities to receive the care they need.
    • Cover assistive technologies and medical devices.
    • Make sure that mental healthcare will be free at the point of service, with no copayments or deductibles which can be a barrier to treatment.
    • Ensure that the nearly 1 in 6 Americans with chronic pain and the nearly 20 million with life-altering pain have access to pain management and treatment, including, where appropriate, access to pain medication. We will work actively to ensure that policies designed to curb opioid use in general do not result in people with disabilities who rely on opioids for chronic pain losing access to them, or being abruptly or forcibly tapered or abandoned in care altogether. We will also cover evidence-based alternatives for pain care, and invest in pain research and the education of clinicians about pain treatment.
  • Medicare for All would also:
    • Require an evaluation of health disparities, including geographic disparities, and a plan for addressing the disparities found in the evaluation. And create an Office of Primary Health to figure out how to increase access to care, including how to train the workforce we need to address these disparities.
    • Ban Medicaid estate recovery.
    • Update the asset limit to account for inflation as it has not been updated since 1988, which determines eligibility of Medicaid institutional long-term support and services.
  • Take action to address discrimination against people with disabilities in health care contexts, including:
    • Designating people with disabilities as a Medically Underserved Population, enabling access to loan repayment and funding preferences for clinicians and health professionals that serve people with disabilities.
    • Banning providers from discriminating against patients, including discrimination based on race, color, gender and pregnancy, and allows courts to award damages to patients if this is violated.
    • Issuing and enforcing regulations ensuring the accessibility of medical and diagnostic equipment.
    • Issuing regulations addressing discrimination against people with disabilities in medical futility determinations and organ transplant allocation decisions.
    • Expand data collection on disability status across federal health programs to more effectively target discriminatory practices and identify appropriate remedies.
  • Address this health workforce and infrastructure shortage crisis, especially our serious shortage of mental health practitioners, by increasing funding for the National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and loan repayment to clinicians working in underserved communities and bring more providers to underserved communities by increasing federal funding for community health centers, which provide primary care, dental care, low-cost prescription drugs and mental health care to more than 28 million Americans in underserved communities.

Through executive authority, Bernie will lower prescription drug prices by:

  • Exercising federal march-in rights to produce lower-priced generic versions of medications that were originally developed at taxpayer expense.
  • Issuing an HHS certification of a drug importation program to allow American pharmacists and wholesalers to purchase lower-priced FDA-approved prescription medications from Canada.
  • Reinstituting and enforcing the National Institutes of Health policy that requires medicines developed at taxpayer expense to be offered to consumers at a fair and reasonable price.

3. Reverse the Criminalization of Disability

According to the Department of Justice, 1 in 5 inmates in prisons has a cognitive disability, while another 1 in 5 inmates has a serious mental illness. Instead of incarceration, we should be providing people with disabilities with the services and supports they need to stay in the community, including mental health care and home- and community-based services. It is our moral responsibility to make it happen. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it costs significantly less to provide someone with the necessary supports and services to stay in the community than it does to incarcerate them.

As president, Bernie will fight to end the criminalization of disability, while also defending the rights of people with disabilities to make their own choices about treatment. He will oppose proposals to expand involuntary commitment laws or weaken HIPAA and FERPA privacy protections, recognizing that mental health services work best when they are voluntary, evidence-based and available without cost or waiting.

  • All too often, people with disabilities, especially people of color with disabilities, face violence from law enforcement. This requires more than just training – it requires accountability. Approximately half of all people who die in police-involved shootings have a disability. In order to protect the rights of people with disabilities, we intend to make discriminatory law enforcement interactions with people with disabilities a major enforcement priority of the Civil Rights Division.
  • Recognizing the humanitarian crisis in our country created by the incarceration of people with mental illness, we will use the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision to challenge states that have failed to adequately support the voluntary, community-based mental health services that can divert people with mental illness from ending up in the criminal justice system.
  • Bar criminal charges for school-based disciplinary behavior and invest in school nurses, counselors, teachers, teaching assistants, and small class sizes to address disciplinary issues. We will ensure every school has the necessary school counselors and wrap-around services by expanding the sustainable community school model. By expanding the sustainable community school model, we will ensure schools are able to provide trauma-informed care and services in schools.
  • Work with teachers, school administrators, and the disability rights movement to end restraint and seclusion in schools through passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act.
  • Invigorate and expand the compassionate release process so that people with disabilities are transitioned out of incarceration whenever possible.
  • Invest in diversion programs as alternatives to the court and prison system for people with disabilities and ensure those people have the community-based supports and services they need.
  • Require and fund police officer training on implicit bias, cultural competency, de-escalation, crisis intervention, adolescent development, and how to interact with people with mental and physical disabilities.
  • Create a civilian corps of unarmed first responders, such as social workers, EMTs and trained mental health professionals, who can handle order maintenance violations, mental health emergencies, and low level conflicts outside the criminal justice system, freeing police officers to concentrate on the most serious crimes.
  • Establish national standards for use of force by police that emphasize de-escalation.
  • Stop the criminalization of homelessness and spend nearly $32 billion over the next five years to end homelessness. This includes doubling McKinney-Vento homelessness assistance grants to build permanent supportive housing, and $500 million to provide outreach to homeless people to help connect them to available services. In the first year of this plan, 25,000 of the Housing Trust Fund units will be prioritized for housing the homeless.
  • Create an Office of Disability in the DOJ focused on coordinating these efforts, including the reduction of incarcerated people with disabilities, reducing recidivism and guaranteeing a just re-entry for people with disabilities, and ensuring every aspect of our criminal justice system is ADA compliant.
  • Ensure due process and right to counsel by vastly increasing funding for public defenders and creating a federal formula to ensure populations have a minimum number of public defenders to meet their needs.
  • Pass the No Money Bail Act to end cash bail and to end the criminalization of poverty in America.
  • Enact a Prisoner Bill of Rights that includes among other things a determination for the most appropriate setting for people with disabilities and safe, accessible conditions for people with disabilities in prisons and jails; an end to solitary confinement; and access to free medical care in prisons and jails, including professional and evidence-based substance abuse and trauma-informed mental health treatment.

4. Expanding Social Security

Today in America, about 1 in 4 Americans lives with a disability. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an earned benefit that covers more than 150 million workers and lifts millions of people with disabilities and their families out of poverty. Currently, the SSDI program faces a massive backlog and a wait time for applicants that can stretch into years. Thousands of Americans have died waiting for a hearing. This is unacceptable. The United States spends far less than other rich nations on assistance for people with disabilities. We must ensure dignity for Americans with disabilities by expanding benefit levels and giving them access to their earned benefits in a timely manner.

Additionally, Supplemental Security Insurance provides a small but crucial lifeline for those with disabilities and low incomes, including children. SSI supports 1.2 million children with disabilities, lifting hundreds of thousands out of poverty and substantially reducing deep poverty. But SSI benefits do not even reach the federal poverty line and have been targeted for cuts by Trump and the GOP. We must protect and expand SSI for those who need it the most.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Protect and expand the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs and end the massive disability backlog to end wait lists for people with disabilities to access their earned benefits.
  • Expand benefits across-the-board for all Social Security beneficiaries, including SSI, and increase and index the SSI benefit level so that it is equal to 125 percent of the poverty line.
  • Eliminate the SSI asset test. It is unacceptable that we force people with disabilities to spend down so they qualify for SSI and force recipients off the program if they see a small sum of money come in that puts them over the asset threshold. When we are in the White House, we will eliminate the asset threshold to ensure people with disabilities get the benefits they need.
  • Eliminate the SSDI benefits cliff. Currently, SSDI recipients lose all their benefits when they go above the substantial gainful activity threshold, even if only by a single dollar. We will work with Congress to fix the benefits cliff by providing for a gradual replacement of $1 for every $2 of earnings, similar to the existing SSI program.
  • Raise the Substantial Gainful Activity threshold. Current law places the Substantial Gainful Activity threshold at $2,110 for blind Americans and $1,260 for non-blind Americans with a disability. People with disabilities should be able to enter the workforce without facing serious financial penalties. As president, Bernie will work with Congress to raise the Substantial Gainful Activity level and equalize it at 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. This will raise the Substantial Gainful Activity threshold for both blind and non-blind Americans with disabilities and allow it to account for family size, recognizing the different economic impacts of disability depending on family circumstances.
  • Bring back student benefits for children of deceased workers and workers with disabilities that were eliminated in 1983.
  • Combine the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund and the Old Age and Survivors Trust fund to protect benefits.
  • Issue a moratorium on all closures of field offices and other SSA offices.
  • Remove the marriage penalty from SSI benefits.
  • Remove barriers and disincentives to work for SSI benefits recipients.
  • Eliminate the “in-kind support and maintenance” provision.
  • Reverse the Trump administration’s cruel eligibility rule for SSI and SSDI.
  • Hold people with disabilities harmless from overpayments. Currently, if SSA accidentally overpays an SSI or SSDI recipient, they may be held personally liable for paying it back, even if the overpayment takes place over a period of years, leading to a substantial backlog that is not the fault of the beneficiary. We will end this practice.
  • Eliminate the two-year Medicare waiting period for SSDI recipients by passing Medicare for All.
  • Hire more Administrative Law Judges to hear appeals.
  • Bring parity to the treatment of Puerto Ricans and others living in U.S. territories in federal programs such as SSI.
  • Work with disability rights advocates and clinicians to update the Social Security disability claims process to ensure people with conditions that are not easily proven by tests, such as migraines, are treated fairly in the claims process.
  • Take SSA funding outside the budget caps established by the Budget Control Act and sequestration, as allowed under the Social Security Act itself. We would also work with Congress to ensure a permanent end to discretionary caps.

5. Education

Students with disabilities deserve the same educational opportunities as their non-disabled peers. Unfortunately, too many receive a substandard education that fails to ensure they get a chance to live up to their full potential. Worse still, students with disabilities, especially students of color with disabilities, are often subject to dangerous restraint and seclusion or are funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline.

More than 40 years ago, the federal government made a promise to school districts around the country to fund 40 percent of the cost of special education. It is an understatement to point out that the federal government has not come close to keeping this promise. This is a failure in our country’s commitment to public education – the cost of educating students with disabilities is part of the cost of educating all students.

From child care and pre-k to higher education, students with disabilities should have the opportunity to be fully included and access a high-quality education that prepares them for a future of their choosing.

Early Childhood Education

Education begins in early childhood, and it is essential that we make available the resources, rights and expertise necessary to ensure that children with disabilities receive the supports they need and are included with their peers from an early age. Bernie will guarantee childcare and universal pre-kindergarten for every child in America

As president, Bernie will:

  • Enact universal child care and universal pre-kindergarten for every child in America. Through the establishment of universal early education, children with disabilities will have much greater access to inclusive settings in early childhood.
  • Require the Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services to develop federal standards for ensuring that all federally funded childcare settings include children with disabilities and do not discriminate on the basis of disability.
  • Expand funding within the Institute for Education Sciences for research on how early childhood professionals can best support children with disabilities, including those with significant cognitive disabilities and complex medical needs, in natural environments and inclusive early childhood education settings.
  • Ensure that students with disabilities who require it get access to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) technology and the services necessary to make it meaningful from a young age. This will include issuing new guidance through the Department of Education to ensure that students who receive an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device through their school are able to keep it outside of school hours, as well as if they change districts.
  • Invest in new technical assistance resources within the Department of Education to support general education teachers in helping children with disabilities develop pre-literacy and literacy skills in general education classrooms.

K-12

Because of inadequate federal funding, property taxes around the country are increasing while kids with disabilities are not getting the attention they deserve. IDEA helps about 6.5 million children with disabilities, but because of a chronic lack of funding there is a shortage of special education teachers and physical and speech therapists, and the turnover rate among them is incredibly high. In addition, many students are forced out of the general education classroom due to inaccessible schools, a refusal to make accommodations or other examples of programmatic and architectural inaccessibility.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Provide mandatory funding to ensure that the federal government provides at least 50 percent of the funding for serving students with disabilities, exceeding the federal government’s original commitment with IDEA. He will also ensure schools receive 100 percent of the funding for additional costs of serving students with disabilities in the general education classroom above the cost of average per pupil expenditures.
  • Guarantee children with disabilities an equal right to high-quality education by aggressively enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, addressing both programmatic and architectural barriers.
  • Increase educational opportunities for people with disabilities, including spending $50 billion over the next decade to expand career and technical education opportunities to prepare students for good-paying community employment.
  • Address the shortage in special education teacher recruitment, training opportunities, workload, and pay for special education teachers.
  • Instruct the Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Office of Civil Rights to issue joint guidance ensuring that parents with disabilities have the opportunity to fully participate in their child’s education.
  • Triple Title I funding to ensure students with disabilities are able to get quality education regardless of the zip code they live in.
  • Ensure our schools are accessible by fully closing the gap in school infrastructure funding to renovate, modernize and green the nation’s schools.
  • Work with teachers, school administrators, and the disability rights movement to end restraint and seclusion in schools through passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act.
  • Address racial disproportionality in special education services by fully implementing the Obama-era Equity in IDEA regulations on special education disproportionality in discipline, classification and placement.
  • Require State Education Authorities to submit corrective action plans to address gaps in student achievement, graduation rates, discipline and educational inclusion between students with disabilities and students without disabilities, disaggregated by race, disability type, class and gender.
  • Invest in expanding access to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for students who need additional communication assistance.
  • Ensure that Deaf students have access to American Sign Language and blind students have access to braille literacy.
  • Establish a Protection and Advocacy in Special Education (PASE) funding stream, to support students with disabilities and their family members in accessing their legal rights.
  • Provide $50 billion in funding over the next decade for sustainable community schools to provide a holistic, full-service approach to learning and the wellbeing of our young people.
  • Instruct the Department of Education to issue new regulations and offer technical assistance promoting access to Augmentative and Alternative Communication for students who need it, ensuring access to effective communication and language-rich environments for all students.
  • Reduce the age at which schools must begin transition planning for students with disabilities from 16 to 14.
  • Protect students’ privacy. We must curtail the practice of monitoring students’ social media and use of other surveillance tools that have been recently popularized.
  • Increase funding for peer support training in schools.
  • Pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act.
  • Pass Bernie and Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Universal School Meals Program Act to provide universal, year-round, free breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner at school.
    • Eliminate all school meal lunch debt and end “lunch debt shaming.”
    • Expand Summer EBT across the country to ensure no student goes hungry during the summer.
    • Provide a $0.30 per meal incentive for schools that procure 30 percent of their food from local sources.

Higher Education

Every person, regardless of disability or their family income, should have the opportunity to receive higher education. According to a recent report, “14.3 percent of people with disabilities (ages 25 to 34) attained a bachelor’s degree or more, compared to 37.2 percent of their peers without disabilities, reflecting a 22.9 percentage point gap.”

The federal government should not make billions of dollars in profit off of student loans while students are drowning in debt. Students with disabilities are 6 percent more likely to default on their student loans. We should invest in young Americans – not leverage their futures. And we must make sure our colleges and universities are environments where students with disabilities can thrive.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Make public colleges, universities, and trade schools and apprenticeships tuition-free and debt-free.
  • Provide students with disabilities the accommodations they need to thrive and ensure all facilities are accessible.
  • Double funding for the TRIO Programs and increases funding for the GEAR UP Program so more low-income students, students with disabilities, and first-generation students can attend and graduate college with a degree. By increasing our investment in these programs, we will reach 1.5 million students through TRIO programs and more than 100,000 additional students through GEAR UP than the program reaches today.
  • Require universities to have a minimum number of full-time University Disability Services personnel determined by their enrollment, according to a formula set by the Secretary of Education.
  • Expand Pell grants to cover non-tuition costs like housing, books, and other expenses.
  • Cancel all student debt.
  • Fully fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities and make them tuition and debt-free.
  • Cap interest rates on student loans at 1.88 percent.

6. Guarantee Jobs and Living Wages in the Community

We unfortunately still live in a world where people with disabilities have fewer work opportunities, are often forced to work in sheltered workshops where they are paid as little as 2 cents per hour, and experience much higher rates of poverty. Unacceptably, 23.5 percent of adults with disabilities are living in poverty – close to double the official poverty rate. According to a recent report, “35.5 percent of the population with disabilities (ages 18 to 64) were employed. In contrast, the employment-to-population ratio of people without disabilities was 76.5 percent, nearly double that of people with disabilities.” The median wage for full-time workers with disabilities is $5,000 less than the median wage for full-time workers without disabilities.

As president, Bernie will:

  • End subminimum wage certificates for individuals with disabilities so that all people with disabilities are paid a livable wage.
  • Enact a federal jobs guarantee for every worker in this country. The program will provide living- wage jobs integrated in the community to all people with disabilities who want to work through the program.
  • Expand grants to states and municipalities to ensure employment and employment services for workers with disabilities in their communities. Medicare for All will also cover supported employment services, expanding on coverage available in state Medicaid programs.
  • Work with Congress to fully fund the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, authorize it in law, and establish a new Demonstration and Innovation Fund for ODEP to support state experimentation with improving the country’s disability employment service-provision system.
  • Aggressively enforce the provisions under Sections 501 and 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and ensure that Federal agencies and contractors meet their affirmative action obligations under the law.
  • With respect to Section 503, Bernie will instruct the Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to issue new regulations increasing the utilization goal for federal contractor hiring of people with disabilities to more closely reflect the proportion of people with disabilities in the general population, and introduce a new sub-goal for workers with targeted disabilities.
  • Increase the budget of the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission and provide funding for employment “testers” to identify disability discrimination and address it.
  • Provide every worker with guaranteed vacation leave, sick leave, and family and medical leave.
  • Pass the Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act to help small businesses comply with the ADA, which would open doors to employment in the small business space.
  • Issue an executive order leveraging the federal government’s role as a model employer to drastically increase disability employment efforts. While employment opportunity was central to the goals of the ADA, only four out of ten working-age people with disabilities are employed. To help address the unemployment and under-employment of people with disabilities, Bernie will issue an executive order instructing federal agencies to expand their hiring of workers with disabilities utilizing the Schedule A Hiring Authority.

7. Housing for All

We have an affordable housing crisis in this country, and we must address it. It is not acceptable that many people with disabilities are spending 50 percent or more of their limited incomes to put a roof over their heads, leaving little money for food, transportation, health care or medicine. It is not acceptable that many people with disabilities in our country are homeless on any given night. It is not acceptable that people with disabilities face housing discrimination in the year 2020. When we are in the White House, we will guarantee housing as a right for all and end housing discrimination once and for all.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Build nearly 10 million permanently affordable, accessible homes to fully close the gap in affordable, accessible housing units.
  • Fully fund tenant-based Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8, and make it a mandatory program for all eligible households, strengthen the Fair Housing Act and implement a Section 8 non-discrimination law so that landlords can no longer discriminate against low-income families based on their source of income.
  • Invest $180 billion over 10 years in sustainable retrofits for public housing through the Green New Deal and $70 billion in the Housing for All plan to repair and modernize public housing including making all public housing accessible and providing access to high-speed broadband for all public housing residents.
  • Implement the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule blocked by President Trump’s administration to ensure federal funds promote fair housing.
  • Aggressively enforce the Olmstead decision, Section 504, and the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure access to accessible, integrated housing.
  • Ensure all new Section 811 housing is fully integrated.
  • Preempt laws that prevent inclusionary zoning and incentivize municipalities to incorporate disability access into their inclusionary zoning requirements.
  • End exclusionary and restrictive zoning ordinances with zoning that encourages racial, economic, and disability integration and makes housing more affordable.
    • Require that recipients of federal funding from the Department of Transportation make these important zoning reforms.
    • Provide funding to states that preempt local exclusionary zoning ordinances to make housing more equitable, accessible and affordable for all.
  • Make federal funding contingent on creating livable communities.
    • Encourage zoning and development that promotes integration and access to public transportation to reduce commuting time, congestion and long car commutes.
    • Prioritize projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create livable communities, and reduce urban sprawl.
    • Encourage zoning and development designed to expand and maximize the number of units fully accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Create an office within the Department of Housing and Urban Development to coordinate and work with states and municipalities to strengthen rent control and tenant protections, implement fair and inclusive zoning ordinances, streamline review processes and direct funding where these changes are made.
  • Create an independent National Fair Housing Agency similar to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dedicated to protecting renters from housing discrimination, investigating landlords who misuse Section 8 vouchers, and enforce housing standards for renters. The Fair Housing Agency will also conduct audits to hold landlords and sellers engaged in housing discrimination accountable.
  • Implement a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, which would allow a landlord to evict a tenant only for specific violations and prevent landlords from evicting tenants for arbitrary or retaliatory reasons.
  • Provide $2 billion in federal matching grants for states and localities to provide a right to counsel for persons in eviction or foreclosure proceedings, or at risk of losing their Section 8 rental assistance.

8. Protecting the Rights of People with Disabilities

In 2014, there were 38,691 charges filed on the basis of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. When we are in the White House, we will work to ensure no person with a disability experiences discrimination or barriers to living a full and productive life.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Create a National Office of Disability Coordination focused on coordinating disability policy making to advance the full inclusion of people with disabilities, including ensuring every aspect of our public resources are ADA compliant and that the civil rights of people with disabilities are enforced. This office will be run by a person with a disability.
  • Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Ensure no person with a disability experiences discrimination or barriers to living a full and productive life by fully enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Defend the Americans with Disabilities Act from attempts to weaken it whether those attempts come from Congress through legislation or businesses challenging the law.
  • Create an Office of International Disability Rights within the Department of State focused on protecting and expanding disability rights throughout the world.

9. Transportation and Infrastructure

Bernie strongly believes that every person in the United States should have the right to safe, affordable, and accessible transportation without fear of discrimination. Period. Unfortunately that is not the America we live in today. According to the American Association of People with Disabilities, “Adults with disabilities are twice as likely as those without disabilities to have inadequate transportation (31 percent vs. 13 percent). Of the nearly 2 million people with disabilities who never leave their homes, 560,000 never leave home because of transportation difficulties.”

We will address the current crisis in ADA compliance in our infrastructure and ensure all new infrastructure will be ADA compliant.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Invest in airport infrastructure to make sure our airports are fully accessible and work with the disability rights community, the Department of Transportation, and TSA to remove barriers to air travel for people with disabilities.
  • Ensure that relevant affirmative action and employment non-discrimination provisions from federal disability law are applied and enforced to leverage these investments to expand employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.
  • Invest $300 billion to build public transit that is affordable, accessible, fast and resilient through the Green New Deal. We will ensure that reliable, affordable public transit is accessible for people with disabilities, seniors, and rural communities. In addition to expanding transit service to communities, we will promote transit-oriented development to link this service to popular destinations and vital community services. For too long, government policy has encouraged long car commutes, congestion, and dangerous emissions. The Green New Deal will reverse these trends and create more livable, connected, and vibrant communities.
  • Build accessible regional high-speed rail. Many other developed nations have advanced high speed rail systems. A $607 billion investment in a regional high-speed rail system would complete the vision of the Obama administration to develop high-speed intercity rail in the United States. This new system will give travelers a meaningful affordable alternative to plane or car travel between major cities.
  • Rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and make it fully accessible. We will rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, railways, water systems, sewers, dams, culverts, housing and schools by investing more than $2 trillion on an infrastructure plan – which is exactly what the American Society of Civil Engineers has told us we need to spend. Throughout these infrastructure investments, we will work to aggressively enforce Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to ensure full accessibility for people with disabilities. We will also make sure that relevant affirmative action and employment non-discrimination provisions of federal disability law are applied and enforced to leverage these investments to expand employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

10. Protecting and Expanding Nutrition Assistance and Energy Assistance Programs

More than 11 million people with disabilities rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. President Trump has repeatedly tried to cut this program and make it harder for people to figure out where their next meal is coming from. At a time when tens of millions of Americans are already struggling to put food on the table, we are not going to cut these programs. Instead we are going to expand them.

Fifty-two percent of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) recipient households have a person with a disability. As home heating bills skyrocketed in 2008, Bernie led the effort to double funding for LIHEAP. As president, he will ensure no one ever has to make the choice between paying for food, medicine, or their energy bill.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $311 billion to increase the benefits from the “thrifty” plan, which provides inadequate benefits, to the more accurate “low-cost” food plan to include those with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
    • Remove punitive work requirements, remove barriers for college students to access SNAP, and ensure people are not denied benefits due to past interaction with the criminal justice system.
    • Allow SNAP recipients to purchase hot and prepared foods with their benefits.
    • Allow SNAP and WIC recipients to use their benefits to purchase food through online grocery shopping and delivery services.
    • Reverse the Trump administration’s punitive rules that make SNAP harder to access. A Bernie Sanders’ administration will protect categorical eligibility and make it easier, not harder, for families struggling to get by to get the help they need.
  • Expand LIHEAP by $25 billion to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. Additionally, the program will be expanded to provide 10 percent of program costs for maintenance of new efficient heating and cooling systems and technical assistance for the installation and use of new furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, and other upgrades for the duration of the 10-year transition.
    • We will build enough renewable energy generation capacity for the nation’s growing needs through the Green New Deal. After 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.
    • Weatherize homes and businesses through the Green New Deal to perform energy efficiency upgrades to make buildings more energy efficient and lower energy bills. Deep weatherization retrofits will reduce residential energy consumption by 30 percent.
  • Ban utility shut-offs. Utility shut-offs can be a life and death matter for people with disabilities. As a result of utility shutoffs, people in the wealthiest country in the history of the world have frozen to death, died in fire, and have suffocated to death due to their oxygen machines being shut off. We must recognize that water, power, and heating are basic human needs.

11. Community-Based Research

Bernie believes that people with disabilities have a right to be included in the research being undertaken about them. As president, he will take steps to ensure that people with disabilities are meaningfully included in the research process, consistent with the values at the core of the disability rights movement: “Nothing about People with Disabilities, Without People with Disabilities.”

As president, Bernie will:

  • Double the budget of the National Institute for Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).
  • Require National Institutes of Health grant review processes to include people with disabilities as reviewers.
  • Create a funding priority for Community-Based Participatory Research and Participatory Action Research models across the National Institutes of Health.
  • Require condition-specific advisory committees, such as the Inter-Agency Autism Coordinating Committee, to include individuals with the relevant disability as at least half of the public members of the committee.
  • Expand pre- and post-doctoral training grants specifically for researchers with disabilities in order to help diversify the research workforce.
  • Re-authorize the Autism CARES Act with provisions to increase the percentage of autism research funding allocated to the needs of autistic adults and services, grow the representation of autistic people and others with developmental disabilities in the Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities programs, and center the voices of autistic people in autism policy.
  • Permanently re-authorize the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) created by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Establish a Center for Clinical Research within the National Institutes of Health to develop essential drugs in the public interest for public benefit. The medicines developed at this center would be produced directly by the federal government and generics could also enter the market immediately after FDA approval. The center will focus on developing and testing drugs to treat diseases with limited or expensive treatment options, including orphan diseases.
  • Create a prize model to spur innovation for new medications.
    • A company bringing a truly innovative treatment to market would receive a cash prize instead of patent protection; the treatment would then be placed in the public domain, allowing generic versions to come onto the market immediately after FDA approval.
    • This ensures companies are still compensated for their research and development, while keeping drug prices affordable for all patients.

12. The Green New Deal and Emergency Preparedness

We must ensure that people with disabilities are provided with the resources they need to adequately prepare for and recover from the increasing number of climate related emergencies. This means everything from ensuring emergency preparation and warnings are accessible to providing extra resources to people with disabilities to ensure full and rapid recovery after a disaster.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Ensure justice for people with disabilities to recover from, and prepare for, the climate impacts, by passing the READI Act and through a $40 billion Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. We will provide frontline and fenceline communities a just transition including real jobs, resilient infrastructure and economic development.
    • Once the CJRF is established and funded at $40 billion, the EPA, together with a number of other agencies, will conduct a nationwide survey to identify areas with high climate impact vulnerabilities and other socioeconomic factors, public health challenges, and environmental hazards. Each community will then be eligible for funding in order of most vulnerable to least vulnerable.
    • The interagency council will issue block grants to states, territories, tribes, municipalities, counties, localities, and nonprofit community organizations. The funds will be able to be used for climate resiliency projects, building emergency community centers and shelters with reliable backup power, wetland restoration, abandoned fossil fuel infrastructure and other environmental hazard reclamation; seawalls; community relocation; community evacuation plans and resources for safe and complete evacuation.
    • Within the CJRF, we will establish an Office of Climate Resiliency for People with Disabilities. The office will be led by people with disabilities to ensure that nationwide, the needs of people with disabilities are consistently addressed during adaptation planning and that those efforts are coordinated throughout the federal government.
  • Protect community cohesion. We will amend the Stafford Act to ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is empowered to address this problem specifically to ensure that recovery and rebuilding efforts make affected communities stronger than they were before the disaster so they are more resilient to the next disaster.
  • Ensure health benefits in the wake of disasters. Under Medicare for All, benefits will stay with you. Medicaid recipients will no longer have to re-apply for the health benefits they need to survive if they need to relocate due to an emergency.
  • Ensure the creation and implementation of the Green New Deal is accessible to people with disabilities and non-English speakers. All publications will be in multiple languages, including braille, and meetings will have language interpreters, including sign language, as appropriate.
  • Pass the WATER Act, which will provide $35 billion per year to overhaul our nation’s water infrastructure to guarantee clean and safe drinking water for all.

13. Voting Rights

When Bernie is president, we will ensure no person with a disability experiences discrimination or barriers to living a full and productive life by enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act and expanding access to basic civil rights owed to people with disabilities, including the right to accessible polling places. Bernie will work with disability rights groups, voting rights advocates, and security experts to ensure our election infrastructure is accessible and secure.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Abolish restrictive voter identification laws, which discriminate against voters with disabilities as well as voters of color.
  • Dedicate new resources to the Department of Justice to enable it to expand its existing work protecting the voting rights of people with disabilities, including addressing the widespread use of inaccessible voting places and the failure to provide reasonable accommodations.
  • End misuse of the ADA to close polling places in areas such as Randolph County, Georgia. Instead of closing and relocating polling places in an area without public transit, we will retrofit polling places to make them accessible or find nearby options that are more accessible.
  • Secure automatic voter registration for every American over 18.
  • Restore and expand the Voting Rights Act.
  • Make Election Day a national holiday.
  • Expand early voting, vote-by-mail, and also making absentee voting easier.
  • Provide funding to increase and improve poll worker training on how to interact with voters with disabilities.
  • Establish a new Protection and Advocacy for Voting Rights (PAVR) funding stream, to support Protection and Advocacy agency efforts to protect the voting rights of people with disabilities.

We will also ensure every voter has access to accessible, private, and expansive voting options by:

  • Working with disability rights groups, voting rights advocates, and security experts to pass ballot security legislation which ensures accessible voting options for people with disabilities. Paper ballot mandates must not segregate voters with disabilities from the rest of voters. We must ensure poll workers do not bar someone from using accessible voting options on whether or not they "appear disabled enough" and that anybody who wants to vote on secure, accessible voting devices is allowed to do so.
  • Ensure there is no requirement for “hand-marked” paper ballots, which are inaccessible for many people with disabilities. For people with disabilities, hand-marked paper ballots require someone else to fill out the ballot for them, which is not secure, independent or private.
  • Allocating funding for research in accessible mail-in ballot options, such as using systems in place for military and overseas voters. As states expand mail-in options, the same issues in lack of privacy apply, as many mail-in ballots must be handmarked. We must make these mail-in ballot options accessible to all.
  • Provide funding for research, development, and testing of new accessible voting technology. Our election infrastructure hasn't been updated in many cases since 2001, and many systems are outdated and being decertified due to security issues. We will also ensure that funding for research and development of new election equipment is not restricted to inaccessible systems so that we can move towards secure, accessible voting equipment that serves all voters.
  • Providing funding to states so that they can purchase new accessible voting systems.
  • Bernie firmly believes every American over the age of 18 should have the fundamental right to vote. Period. This includes people with mental health conditions and intellectual disabilities, including those under guardianship.
  • Re-enfranchise the right to vote to the millions of Americans who have had their vote taken away by a felony conviction. As we work to reverse the criminalization of disability, we must ensure all voting-age Americans must have the right and meaningful access to vote, whether they are incarcerated or not.

14. Supported Decision-Making

Bernie believes that people with disabilities deserve the right to make their own choices. To do that, he will promote supported decision-making as a best practice and alternative to guardianship and conservatorship.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Issue guidance through the Department of Education to require consideration of supported decision-making frameworks as part of post-secondary transition planning and to prevent schools from unnecessarily funneling students with disabilities into guardianship and conservatorship.
  • Provide grants to incentivize states to take up supported decision making as an alternative to conservatorship and guardianship. We will ensure that states receiving funding track outcomes in order to research the implementation of supported decision making models throughout the United States.
  • Expand funding for Projects of National Significance under the Developmental Disabilities Act to allow for innovative new demonstration programs, data collection and other activities relating to supported decision-making, legal capacity and broader efforts to promote the autonomy and integration of people with developmental disabilities.

15. Parenting Rights of People with Disabilities

Parents with disabilities deserve equal protection under the law. As President, Bernie will work to safeguard parents with disabilities from discrimination in family law and child custody contexts.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Aggressively enforcing the ADA’s Title II protections to ensure that parents with disabilities do not face discrimination in child custody contexts, including from child protective services.
  • Issue guidance through the HHS Office on Civil Rights on state responsibilities under the ADA to not discriminate against and offer reasonable accommodations to parents with disabilities.
  • Issue guidance through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services clarifying that Medicaid home and community-based services can be used to support parenting on the part of parents with disabilities.
  • Issue guidance through the Department of Education to ensure that school districts make parental engagement opportunities fully accessible to parents with disabilities.
  • Work through the HHS Office of Civil Rights to address discrimination against people with disabilities in adoption contexts.

16. Immigration

We now have a president who is a racist, a xenophobe and a demagogue. He has tried, as all demagogues do, to divide us by demonizing immigrants and blaming them for society’s problems. He has used hateful and disgusting rhetoric to try to dehumanize an entire group of people, and he has used the power of the federal government to mistreat and terrorize immigrants at the border and in our communities. We must stand together with our immigrant friends and neighbors and stand up to President Trump’s xenophobic words and actions.

Bernie supports a family-based immigration system grounded in civil and human rights – an immigration system that is fully accessible to people with disabilities. Bernie believes we must stand up for our values and accept refugees, asylum-seekers, and families who come to the United States in search of the American Dream. This is how America was built and it has made our country strong.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Direct the newly created National Office of Disability Coordination to work with agencies to ensure the immigration and citizenship process is fully accessible to people with disabilities.
    • This includes streamlining our visa and citizenship system and making it easier to navigate, fully accessible, and broadly inclusive.
    • Ensure customs and immigration agencies make reasonable accommodations and, where necessary, disability waivers for the English and civics test broadly available and publicized for people with disabilities to access.
  • Begin rule making process to overturn President Trump’s so-called “public charge” rule to ensure our system does not discriminate on the basis of income or disability and that immigrants do not have to fear endangering their immigration status in order to access basic supports and services. And pass a permanent repeal of the public charge statute, so we do not penalize immigrants who at some point may need to access support programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Pass the Embrace Act introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to ensure immigrants get the assistance they need.
  • Work with Congress to pass the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal to fundamentally reform our immigration detention system by:
    • Ending contracts with private immigrant detention centers.
    • Virtually eliminating immigrant detention by requiring a “presumption of release” standard for determining detention, and ensuring that a past criminal conviction cannot be the sole deciding factor in detention.
    • Requiring release on recognizance or alternatives to detention for vulnerable persons – including people with disabilities – and caregivers.
    • Authorizing and funding community-based alternatives to detention, which will connect immigrants with health, legal, educational, and work resources.
    • Mandating all detention facilities meet standards in line with the American Bar Association’s Civil Immigration Detention Standards.
    • Mandating routine inspections and enforceable penalties for facilities not up to standards.
    • Requiring immediate notification and a mandatory investigation of any deaths in custody of immigration officials.
    • Creating a cause of action for migrants mistreated or harmed in custody.
  • Ensure all detention centers and shelters necessary to provide temporary housing for immigrants meet humane, accessible 21st century living standards. This includes full ADA compliance, medical screenings and access to medical services, nutrition, hygienic conditions and supplies, educational opportunities and counseling.
  • Put a moratorium on deportations until a thorough audit of current and past practices and policies is complete.
  • Reinstate and expand DACA on day one of a Sanders administration.
  • Completely reshape and reform our immigration enforcement system, including breaking up ICE and CBP and redistributing their functions to their proper authorities.
  • Dismantle cruel and inhumane deportation programs and detention centers and reunite families who have been separated.

17. Digital Inclusion

Roughly 1 in 4 people with disabilities say they do not use the internet, and people with disabilities are 20 percent less likely to have broadband. We must end these disparities by connecting every household in America to high-speed internet, regardless of their disability, income, or zip code.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Build resilient, affordable, publicly owned broadband infrastructure. Internet access and Ensure people with disabilities have full access to the internet.
    • Aggressively enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure the accessibility of the Internet, cloud-based applications, and internet-connected devices.
    • Ensure full Section 508 compliance, including making sure government agencies can receive ASL video calls from Deaf people.
    • Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
    • Expand on the success of Senator Tom Harkin’s Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 and develop regulations to expand the availability and quality of closed captioning and audio description on internet platforms.
    • Reinforce and expand the national and state equipment distribution programs for people with disabilities.
    • Reinforce and expand the availability and quality of accessible modern telecom services to ensure everyone who needs these services receives them.
  • Build resilient, affordable, publicly owned broadband infrastructure. Provide $150 billion through the Green New Deal in infrastructure grants and technical assistance for municipalities and/or states to build publicly owned and democratically controlled, co-operative, or open access broadband networks.
  • Require that all internet service providers offer a Basic Internet Plan that provides quality broadband speeds at an affordable price.
    • Increase the FCC definition of minimum broadband speeds to 100mbps download speeds and 10mbps upload speeds.
    • Use broad categorical eligibility to fully subsidize this monthly plan for low-income households.
  • Protect and expand the Lifeline program to connect low-income households to the internet.
  • Provide $5 billion of the next decade for digital inclusiveness.
    • Grants will be distributed to schools, libraries, community centers, senior centers, and other community-based programs to promote digital literacy, adoption, and inclusivity.
  • Provide high-speed internet to all public housing residents. Invest $180 billion over ten years in sustainable retrofits for public housing through the Green New Deal and $70 billion in the Housing for All plan to repair and modernize public housing including making all public housing accessible and providing access to high-speed broadband for all public housing residents.
  • Restore net neutrality.
  • Reinstate and expand privacy protection rules and work with privacy experts, racial justice activists, disability rights activists, and other stakeholders to develop and pass a digital privacy bill of rights into law.

18. Eliminate Medical Debt and End Predatory Lending

A recent survey showed 48 percent of people with disabilities were unbanked or underbanked. The same report showed “households with a disability are almost twice as likely than those without a disability to use alternative, often predatory, lending services.”

Right now, medical debt is the leading cause of consumer bankruptcy in America. In fact, 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies are connected to medical issues. Studies show that 500,000 people are bankrupted by medical expenses each and every year – and the true number may be far higher.

As president, Bernie will end predatory lending, eliminate medical debt, and ensure everyone in our country the financial services they need.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Cap interest rates on consumer loans and credit cards at 15 percent across all financial institutions. And states will be empowered to cap rates even lower than 15 percent. We will send a clear message to the modern-day loan sharks that we will not allow them to make billions off of keeping people with disabilities in a state of perpetual debt. We must stop the exploitative lending practices suppressing economically distressed communities. We must ensure every American has the opportunity to grow financially.
  • Ensure all people with disabilities have access to financial services by allowing every post office to offer basic and affordable banking services and end lending discrimination.
  • Eliminate the $81 billion in past-due medical debt. The federal government will negotiate and pay off past-due medical bills in collections that have been reported to credit agencies.
  • Reform bankruptcy laws to use the existing bankruptcy court system to provide relief for those with burdensome medical debt.
  • Remove and exclude medical debt from existing credit reports.
  • Create a secure public credit registry to replace for-profit credit reporting agencies.
    • This registry will use a public, transparent algorithm to determine creditworthiness that eliminates racial biases and biases against people with disabilities in credit scores.
    • Allow Americans to receive credit scores for free.
    • Prohibit medical debt from being included.
  • End the use of credit checks for rental housing, employment, insurance and other non-lending practices.
  • End abusive and harassing debt collection practices.

19. Veterans

No one who was injured through their military service should be denied benefits because of complicated bureaucracy, period. We have seen too many veterans struggle to get the benefits to which they are rightly entitled to receive. Worse still, veterans who have fought for and won these benefits have them taken away when their health improves. Bernie believes that veterans must be compensated for the disabilities connected to their service without being penalized for working hard to make improvements to their health.

Bernie believes that we must listen to the medical experts when it comes to compensating veterans for injuries and illnesses connected to their military service.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Improve and simplify the claims process so veterans receive the compensation they have earned quickly, accurately, and without bureaucratic red tape.
  • Eliminate the VA benefits backlog. A Bernie Sanders administration will no longer tolerate more than 70,000 veterans having to wait over 125 days for a determination on their benefits and up to seven years to wait for a decision by a Veterans Law Judge.
  • End the disgraceful practice of President Trump and VA Secretary Wilkie, who have willfully chosen to ignore the medical community.
    • On his first day in office, Bernie will validate the findings of the Institute of Medicine (now known as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine) to make sure veterans exposed to Agent Orange are compensated for bladder cancer and other illnesses. It is absolutely unacceptable that our current President is actively working against our ill and injured veterans, not for them.
    • Ensure no future president can do what Trump has done, by changing the law to make the recommendations of medical experts automatic, not reliant on presidential action.
  • Expand the list of injuries and illnesses presumed to be connected with military service.
    • Include the most commonly associated illnesses and injuries found in veterans from each era, including hearing loss and musculoskeletal injuries, like back and knee injuries.
    • Finally include those veterans whose locations and occupations during their service in the military was Classified, righting the wrong that far too many of these veterans have gone without the care they’ve been entitled to simply because the Department of Defense is unwilling to tell the Department of Veterans Affairs needed information.
  • Fight for servicemembers exposed to toxic substances.
    • Ensure that veterans exposed to toxic substances from asbestos and ionized radiation in World War II to Agent Orange in Vietnam to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan are compensated for the myriad of diseases associated with these dangerous chemicals. It is absolutely unacceptable that we have exposed our brave military members to these dangerous chemicals and even worse that we then fail to compensate and care for the illnesses they cause.
  • Improve and expand VA’s comprehensive caregiver program.
    • Providing robust funding for the comprehensive caregiver program will actually save money in the long run by spending less on more expensive, less compassionate institutional care.
    • Expand eligibility for the VA’s Caregiver Program to include not only those veterans with injuries connected to their military services but also illnesses, like cancer, blindness and dementia. These veterans deserve the right to be able to stay in their homes, cared for by those who love them.
      • Their families also deserve to be compensated for the care they already provide; they deserve education on how to best care for their loved one, transportation to and from medical appointments, and respite care that allows them the time needed to care for themselves.

A sincere thank you to the many advocates for their help with this plan including but not limited to:

  • Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán
  • Ari Ne'eman
  • Stacey Milbern
  • Jennifer Mathis
  • Rebecca Cokley
  • Kate Nicholson
  • Nicole Jorwic