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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release July 25, 2000
                      FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Today, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Vice President Gore announced that the Clinton-Gore Administration will launch a series of major new initiatives designed to promote the delivery of home and community-based services and support for people with disabilities.

The initiatives include a new $50 million investment in FY 2001 to help states more easily offer services to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs; new guidance to state Medicaid directors on Medicaid coverage of home and community based services to help them comply with the recent Olmstead Supreme Court ruling; and a new public-private partnership between the Administration and the National Program Office on Self-Determination to help individuals with disabilities in institutions transition into community-based settings. In addition, the Vice President also announced new plans to increase home ownership; extend work incentives for individuals with disabilities to a broader range of housing assistance programs; and promote the development of new assistive technology for people with disabilities. Finally, the Vice President emphasized the Administration's strong support for health care and work incentives legislation of particular importance to people with disabilities, including a Medicare prescription drug benefit, a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights; a $1,000 tax credit for work-related expenses for people with disabilities and a $3,000 long term care tax credit for Americans with long-term care needs.

"I am proud of the progress we have made at turning the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act into reality," Vice President Gore said. "I can think of no better way to build on our progress and celebrate this day than by taking steps towards assuring that Americans with disabilities have the opportunity to live and work in their communities if they so choose."

Today, the Vice President will announce new measures to:

Enhance State Capacity to Provide Home and Community-Based Services. Declaring that, "no one should have to live in an institution or nursing home if they prefer to live in the community with the right support," the Vice President announced a $50 million investment by the Administration in FY 2001 to help states develop comprehensive plans to provide services to persons with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. These new grants, proposed today, will be funded from the previously unspecified portion of the health care quality assurance fund announced in this year's midsession review and are identical to those included in the Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act of 1999. As a condition of receiving funds, states would actively involve people with disabilities and their families in the development of programs enabling people with disabilities to choose where they want to live and receive services. These funds would be used to:

Release New Guidance to States on Home and Community-Based Medicaid Coverage Rules Following the Olmstead Supreme Court Decision. Today, the Vice President announced new guidance to states on their responsibilities in the Medicaid program to support the implementation of the Olmstead Supreme Court decision. States and disability advocates have confirmed that the lack of guidance is undermining their ability to rapidly initiate and provide access to essential home and community-based services necessary to be in compliance with Olmstead. It clarifies existing options to: assist people with disabilities in making a successful transition into the community; expand the availability and quality of community-based services; and ensure that home and community- based services are equally available to all qualifying individuals with disabilities. These guidelines will clarify that:

Create a Nearly $20 Million Investment in a Public-Private Partnership to Help Individuals with Disabilities Transition into Community Living. Today, Vice President Gore announced that HHS and HUD will commit to a new investment, subject to appropriations, of nearly $20 million over five years in a public-private partnership with the National Project Office on Self Determination. The agencies are committing $5.5 million for the first year subject to the availability of the appropriation, and are seeking to commit an additional $14 million over the life of the partnership. This unique partnership, which will also utilize on multi-million dollar investments already made by these agencies, is entitled Access Housing 2000. It will focus on expanding the availability of accessible, affordable housing for people with disabilities and providing necessary support to enable individuals with disabilities make the transition from institutional settings to community living.

Expand Incentives for Employment for Individuals with Disabilities to a Broader Range of Housing Assistance Programs. The Vice President announced that the Administration will issue a new rule that would expand incentives for employment for people with disabilities, extending earned income disregards, currently applicable only to public housing, to tenant-based Section 8 housing vouchers, the HOME program, the Housing for Opportunities for People with AIDS program, and the Supportive Housing for the Homeless program. The Administration is also working on legislative changes to extend the disregards to the remaining housing programs. The new rule will also clarify that deductions for disability-related expenses, such as medical or attendant care expenses, are applicable to the entire range of HUD housing programs.

Increase Home Ownership for Persons with Disabilities. The Vice President announced that HUD will send guidance to all approved FHA mortgagees emphasizing the agency's commitment to promoting home ownership for persons with disabilities. The letter encourages HUD's lender partners to make home ownership possible for individuals with disabilities through increased, but prudent flexibility when underwriting their loan applications.

Establish a National Mental Health Coalition to Promote Community-Based Services for Individuals with Mental Illnesses and Substance Abuse Disorders. Vice President Gore announced that the Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will work with a broad-based group of public and private organizations, constituencies and consumers to create state and local coalitions to assist persons with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders in accessing necessary services.

Develop and Deploy Assistive Technology and Technology that Enables Universal Design. The Vice President announced an Executive Memorandum requiring that the Interagency Committee on Disability Research publish a report identifying priority areas for the development and advancement of assistive technologies and universal design capabilities, and that Federal agencies then develop a strategy for transferring such technology for the benefit of people with disabilities.

Announcements complement the Clinton-Gore Administration's longstanding commitment to providing high quality health care and work incentives for people with disabilities. The Clinton-Gore Administration has proposed several additional initiatives to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive high quality health care and do not face barriers to employment, including: