The Republican Agenda Threatens Equal Rights for People with Disabilities
February 15, 2018
Equal access to public services is one of the founding pillars of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This landmark law has made progress in improving accessibility and inclusion, and prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. Instead of working to expand access to economic opportunities for all Americans, the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have focused their attention on rolling back protections for people with disabilities. Today, they forced a vote on a bill that would weaken enforcement of the ADA and could limit accessibility to businesses for millions of Americans. It’s time for Republicans to serve the people they’re supposed to represent and work to uphold the pillars of the ADA, not tear them down.
The Republican House bill would essentially remove any incentives that businesses currently have to comply with the ADA.
Michael Kirkman, executive director of Disability Rights Ohio: “Someone who’s in a restaurant who needs to use an accessible restroom, that restroom should have been made accessible when they remodeled the restaurant but in many cases, it’s not so they’re forced to go through this process. And in the meantime, they still can’t use the restroom 30 years after the ADA was passed.”
Jennifer Mathis, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law: “Once you take that away, that’s it, there’s no consequence. If you’re a business, there’s no reason why you need to worry about making yourself accessible.”
Denying legal action under the ADA undermines critical protections that allow millions of Americans to live independently and be an integral part of their communities.
Tom Ridge, chair of the National Organization on Disability: “This bill could significantly reduce access for people with disabilities to stores, restaurants, hotels, doctors’ offices, social service establishments, private schools, and other places of public accommodation. In so doing, it would put a damper on opportunities for people with disabilities to participate as full and equal members of society.”
Rebecca Cokley, Center for American Progress: “The reality, of course, is that the only thing that can be collected in ADA lawsuits are attorney's fees, so no disabled person who brings charges can actually get monetary damages from a lawsuit. All they can achieve is the business remedying its inaccessibility.”
On top of their work to strip away the civil rights of disabled Americans, Trump’s budget would gut programs like Medicaid and Social Security that are lifelines for people with disabilities.
Washington Post: “As a candidate, Trump repeatedly said he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Now he proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.”
Bloomberg: “Trump also proposes to cut federal payments to home-health agencies and nursing homes by $80 billion over a decade and to reduce payments to hospitals by nearly $200 billion, including reductions for hospital-owned doctor’s offices.”
The Trump administration could make it more difficult for people with disabilities to get the care they need by allowing states to impose burdensome and unnecessary work requirements on Medicaid recipients.
Washington Post: “But most health policy experts, including a few noted conservatives, have regarded the government insurance enabling millions of people to afford medical care as a right that should not hinge on individuals’ compliance with other rules.”