Work Incentives Improvement Legislation--PASSES
fpennell at u.washington.edu
Wed Oct 20 08:35:32 PDT 1999
The Work Incentives Improvement Act has PASSED! This Act is intended to
make it easier for people with disabilities to retain their health care
coverage when they find employment. The following information was provided
by the National Parent Network on Disabilities. Francie Pennell
October 19, 1999
The US House passes H.R. 1180 ....expanding access to Medicaid and
Medicare for people with significant disabilities when they remain or
return to the workforce.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 19, 1999
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I am extremely pleased that the House, by an overwhelming bipartisan
vote today, passed legislation that will remove barriers to work for
Americans with disabilities. Today's impressive vote for the Work
Incentives Improvement Act sends a strong signal that all Americans,
including people with disabilities, should have the opportunity to work.
Now I call on Congress to finish the job, so more Americans can start to
My Administration has helped create more than 19 million new jobs in
the last six and a half years, and unemployment is at a 29-year low. Yet
almost three out of four Americans with severe disabilities who want to
work are not working. Since taking office, I have made empowering and
promoting the independence of people with disabilities a priority. Central
to this effort is taking down barriers to work for people with
disabilities. One of the biggest barriers these Americans face is the fear
of losing their health insurance when they get a job. Under current law,
many people with disabilities cannot work and keep their Medicaid or
Medicare coverage, creating a tremendous disincentive to work.
The Work Incentives Improvement Act would help ensure that people with
disabilities do not lose their health care when they gain a job. It would
give workers with disabilities the option to buy into Medicaid and would
extend Medicare coverage for people with disabilities who return to work.
The Work Incentives Improvement Act also modernizes the vocational
rehabilitation system by creating a "ticket" that enables an SSI or SSDI
beneficiary to go to either a public or private provider of vocational
In my State of the Union Address nine months ago, I urged the Congress
to make this historic legislation a top priority, and I fully funded it in
the budget I sent to Congress. Like the House, the Senate has
overwhelmingly passed the Work Incentives Improvement Act, thanks to the
leadership of Senators Jeffords, Kennedy, Roth, and Moynihan. The bill
that passed today has flaws. These include limitations on the health
options and inadequate and problematic financing provisions, particularly
one affecting student loans. I urge the Congress to address these issues
this year and send me this legislation. Americans with disabilities who
want to work should not have to wait any longer for that opportunity.
Work Incentives Bill Passes House by Overwhelming Margin
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the work incentives bill by an
overwhelming margin (412 - 9) at around 6 pm on Tuesday evening, 19
October. While the bill number is H.R. 1180, which is the number of the
bill introduced by Congressman Lazio and passed by the Commerce Committee,
the exact contents of the bill are not known at this time and it is likely
that the body of the bill is more similar to H.R. 3070, the bill passed by
the Ways & Means Committee. Members of Congress and their staff battled up
to the last minute about how to pay for the bill and came to agreement just
Unconfirmed reports indicate that last minute improvements were made to
provide additional funding "offsets" to pay for the bill. If accurate, the
Medicaid provisions for infrastructure grants and a demonstration project
are paid for with mandatory funding, although at a lower level. The
troubling provision relating to Medicaid payments for educational services
was apparently improved. An additional offset that affects rates for
student loans was also apparently included. However, the Medicaid buy-in
provisions may have been affected in a negative manner. An anlysis of the
bill, when it is available, will be necessary to provide accurate
information on the impact of the last minute changes.
During the floor debate, both Republican and Democratic leaders committed
to continue working on the funding for this bill as it goes to conference.
A conference committee made up of Senators and Representatives will be
responsible for resolving the differences between the Senate and House
bills. We must keep the pressure up on the White House and Congressional
leadership to identify the necessary money to fully fund this essential
legislation as it goes through the conference committee process.
Updated 7:07 PM ET October 19, 1999
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House Tuesday easily passed a bill designed to
help disabled people return to work without sacrificing badly-needed health
A similar bill is pending in the Senate. The concept has bipartisan support
in both chambers but legislation stalled last year.
Backers of the legislation said that over 10 years, up to a half-million
people receiving Social Security disability benefits could regain their
independence and resume work through direct assistance, rehabilitation and
employment services in the package, approved by a 412-9 vote.
Currently, disabled people who go back to work often lose their Medicaid or
Medicare health coverage, even though they may have a great deal of
difficulty getting other insurance to meet their often complex and costly
"It's a perverse system and we need to change it," said New York Republican
Rick Lazio, a lead sponsor of the bill. He said the legislation would give
disabled people the "peace of mind" they need to return to work.
"Advances in medicine, technology and the field of rehabilitation have
given many individuals with disabilities a real chance to work, if we can
redesign our programs to encourage rather than discourage their efforts,"
said Florida Republican Clay Shaw, chairman of the Ways and Means
subcommittee on Social Security.
The bill sets up several options for disabled people. They can get a
"ticket" like a voucher that they could use for rehabilitation, employment
or other support services. It would be funded out of the savings that would
occur when people go to work instead of receiving government disability
It would also help some of them keep their Medicare coverage for up to a
decade, and would give states the option of allowing the working disabled
to purchase Medicaid coverage.
Both Democrats and Republicans voiced concern over some of the provisions
that would pay for the bill, but they said they hoped to iron out those
problems in later negotiations with the Senate.
This information is brought to you by
The National Parent Network on Disabilities
1130 17th Street, N.W. Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 463-2299 (202) 463-9403 (fax)
npnd at cs.net / www.npnd.org
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