On Friday, President Clinton signed a law allowing millions of disabled Americans to retain their government-funded health coverage when they take a job.
The Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act of 1999 will "modernize the employment services system for people with disabilities, and extend tax provisions for working families, education, the environment, and scientific research," according to a White House statement.
At a signing ceremony at the monument to FDR in Washington, D.C., Clinton called attention to the statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt sitting in a wheelchair with a cloak around his legs.
"In his time ... Roosevelt felt he needed to keep his wheelchair from public view," Clinton said. "Most people believed being disabled meant being unable, though he proved them wrong every day."
Fear of losing Medicare and Medicaid benefits is a major barrier keeping disabled people from seeking employment. Some 9 million disabled adults receive Medicare and Medicaid. It is not known how many of them might make use of the law's provisions.
The act will attempt to break down the barriers for the millions of Americans who are disabled by:
- creating new options and incentives for states to offer a Medicaid buy-in for workers with disabilities;
- extending Medicare coverage for an additional 4 1/2 years for people on disability insurance who return to work;
- creating a $250 million Medicaid buy-in demonstration to help people whose disability is not yet so severe that they cannot work; and
- enhancing employment-related services for people with disabilities.