Biden Victory Brings High Hopes For Disability Community
Joe Biden’s campaign put forward a broad plan to address the needs of people with disabilities. Now advocates are optimistic as the former vice president prepares to assume the presidency.
After a divisive campaign that culminated in four days of vote counting, Biden won the election over the weekend and is now poised to become the nation’s 46th president.
Speaking Saturday night from his hometown of Wilmington, Del., the president-elect pledged to work for every American.
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“We must make the promise of the country real for everybody — no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity or their disability,” Biden said.
As a candidate, Biden issued a wide-ranging disability plan that called for “full equality.” He committed to backing an increase in Supplemental Security Income benefits, fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, phasing out subminimum wage and adding support for direct care providers as well as family caregivers.
What’s more, Biden said he would appoint a director of disability policy at the White House and push for legislation guaranteeing the choice to receive services in the community that was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C.
In a separate plan aimed at tackling the nation’s “caregiving crisis,” the president-elect said he would provide funding to cover Medicaid home- and community-based services for everyone with a disability who’s currently on a waiting list.
Advocates said they’re looking forward to seeing Biden’s plans come to fruition.
“President-elect Biden has made many concrete commitments to the disability community, including strengthening and expanding home- and community-based services, ending subminimum wage and promoting supported decision-making. We are hopeful that the transition team will continue to engage with disability organizations and set the stage for a strong partnership for the incoming administration,” said Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
Nicole Jorwic, senior director of public policy at The Arc, said she’s optimistic that the needs of people with disabilities will be factored in any COVID-19 relief plans under the incoming administration, something that’s been lacking thus far in the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the National Disability Rights Network called on Biden to appoint people with disabilities to his transition team and at all levels of government, including the cabinet.
“The Biden-Harris campaign laid out an ambitious plan to meet the needs of Americans with disabilities, and it is our sincere hope to see that plan carried out and fully implemented,” the group said in a statement. “It is time for the federal government to reflect the diversity of this country, including Americans who have a disability.”