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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (New York, New York)
For Immediate Release                                       May 19, 1999


I commend the House Commerce Committee for its overwhelming bipartisan support for the Work Incentives Improvement Act today. By unanimously endorsing this legislation, the committee has taken an important step towards removing significant barriers to work for one of our nation's most significant untapped resources -- millions of people with disabilities. The committee's action, under the leadership of Chairman Bliley and Congressman Dingell, parallels the overwhelmingly bipartisan support that the Roth/Moynihan/Jeffords/Kennedy version of this legislation received from the Senate Finance Committee.

Americans with disabilities can and do bring tremendous energy and talent to the American workforce, but the unemployment rate for all working-age adults with disabilities is nearly 75 percent. One of the most glaring problems is that people with disabilities frequently become ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare if they go back to work. This puts people with disabilities in the untenable position of choosing between health care coverage and work. The Work Incentives Improvement Act would improve job opportunities for people with disabilities by increasing access to health care and employment services.

Justin Dart, one of the foremost leaders of the disability community, has said that the Work Incentives Improvement Act is "one of the boldest since the landmark passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act." As I indicated in my State of the Union Address, I could not agree more with him. I urge Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader Lott to move promptly to schedule votes on this important and long overdue legislation.