Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act almost 30 years ago, people with disabilities living in the United States have made significant progress to become included in all aspects of society. Despite great advances, there is still much work to be done to ensure that Pennsylvanians with disabilities can live independently, have equal opportunities, and can be economically self-sufficient. As a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Committee on Finance, Senator Casey Senator Casey is uniquely positioned to continue his advocacy on behalf of persons with disabilities.
Good jobs and living wages are critical to all Americans. People with disabilities have routinely been limited in their employment and in what they are paid. That is why Senator Casey held a Disability Employment Summit in April 2018, bringing together hundreds of Pennsylvanians to highlight employers in the Commonwealth who are aggressively recruiting and hiring people with disabilities, companies such as SAP, FedEx and the Hershey Company. The Summit also focused on the great work many agencies are doing to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities. Agencies such as ACHIEVA and Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and many others have made it possible for people with all types of disabilities to acquire good jobs with a living wage.
To improve the chances to earn a good job and be paid well, Senator Casey has introduced two new pieces of legislation to encourage business to hire people with disabilities and to strengthen the service delivery network that supports workers with disabilities. The Disability Employment Incentive Act will double three tax credits for businesses that hire people with disabilities and make their work places more accessible, including their on-line presence. The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act will provide funds to help states and individual service providers strengthen their services to support people with disabilities find and retain work.
In December 2014, the ABLE Act, written and championed by Senator Casey, was signed into law by President Obama. The law made possible Pennsylvania’s PA ABLE program that has made it possible for over 2,000 Pennsylvanians with disabilities to save over $12 million to pay for disability related expenses such as education, medical and dental care, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal supports services, transportation and other expenses for life necessities. The ABLE Act gives these individuals an option for saving for their future financial needs in a way that supports their unique situation and makes it more feasible to live full, productive lives in their communities. Nationwide, over 35,000 Americans with disabilities have opened ABLE accounts and have saved more than $175 million for their disability expenses.
Senator Casey recognizes that ABLE doesn’t address every person with a disability because a person must have acquired their disability prior to 26 years of age. Many individuals become disabled after 26 due to disease, degenerative disorders, injuries, and service to our country. That is why he has introduced the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, a bipartisan bill that would increase the age of eligibility to open an ABLE account to anyone who acquires a disability prior to 46 years of age.
Ensuring access to health care and long-term services and supports makes it possible for people with disabilities to live full lives and participate in the opportunities America offers. That is why Senator Casey led the fight to protect Medicaid when there were numerous proposals to cut the program. Medicaid isn't only medical coverage, it is the how millions of Pennsylvanians and Americans with disabilities live in their own homes, get to and from work and are full participants in their communities. Medicaid is a critical program supporting people with disabilities. With the partnership of the disability community, Senator Casey has been successful at making sure the program continues to support over 2.8 million Pennsylvania citizens to receive high quality health care as well as the supports they need to work and live full lives.
The three major hurricanes in 2017 caused enormous destruction, injury and death to many Americans. People with disabilities and older adults disproportionately were affected. That is why Senator Casey wrote and introduced the READI for Disasters Act. The bill would ensure people with disabilities and older adults were part of national, state, and local preparation for disasters and that all responses and recovery efforts were accessible to people with disabilities and older adults.
The many proposals to limit or cut Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and many other programs will have huge negative effects on people with disabilities. To ensure Pennsylvanians and Americans know what those effects might be, Senator Casey introduced the Office of Disability Policy Act, designed to provide the general public and members of Congress with non-partisan information about how a proposal to change a program would affect individuals with disabilities, their families and services providers.
People with disabilities attend and graduate from college and other postsecondary education at far lower rates than people without disabilities. Much of the time this is because of the barriers they face. This is why Senator Casey has introduced the bipartisan RISE (Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower) Act, which would make it easier for postsecondary students with disabilities to get the supports and accommodations they need to be academically successful. Students with disabilities often face barriers in college that prevent them from truly excelling. RISE would ease the transition for students with disabilities from high school to college by clarifying the documentation a college or university must accept as proof of disability. It also provides support for technical assistance to colleges and universities to better serve their students with disabilities.
Senator Casey is also focusing on both safety and the rights of students with disabilities as they pursue higher education. He has introduced the SECuRE Act, which would ensure students with disabilities have access to educational materials to prevent sexual assault. Students with disabilities have the highest rate of sexual assault of any group of students and the SECuRE Act would provide them with preventative information and clarify their rights if they have been assaulted. Also, Senator Casey has introduced the Higher Education Mental Health Act, legislation to create a commission to make recommendations to universities, states, and the federal government to better support students with mental health disabilities and concerns. The goal of the commission would be to highlight best practices to support students with mental health disabilities to be able to participate in higher education and to successfully graduate.
One of the first steps Senator Casey took when he was re-elected was to become an original cosponsor of the Disability Integration Act, a bipartisan bill to make home and community based services and supports fully available to people with disabilities. Currently, those services are subject to a waiting list in many states. Senator Casey believes that everyone has a right to live in their own home and to receive support and services to be able to be full citizens in their communities.
In 2015, Senator Casey introduced the Empowering Parent and Students Through Information Act , which was enacted as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This law clarifies state guidelines and empowers parents to make more informed decisions about which educational track is best for their child with a disability.
Senator Casey is a longtime supporter of fully funding the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The original federal government commitment to IDEA was to fund the legislation at 40 percent of the excess cost of educating a student with a disability. Unfortunately the federal government has never lived up to this expectation. Currently IDEA funds approximately 16 percent of the costs.
This week, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the Office of International Disability Rights Act, which would establish an Office of International Disability Rights within the U.S. Department of State, headed by an Ambassador-at-Large for Disability Rights, to ensure the United States is focused on advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities around the world. Read More
Despite rancor and gridlock, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is finishing 2019 having successfully fought on behalf of his constituents. Senator Casey's 2019 work includes securing miners’ pensions and health care, working to phase out the use of dangerous PFAS chemicals and modernizing the regulation of over-the-counter drugs. Read More
As individuals with disabilities continue to face unique struggles around the world, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Representative Dina Titus (D-NV-1) led a bicameral delegation in the introduction of a resolution recognizing International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on December 3. The legislation highlights the unique struggles faced by individuals with disabilities and reiterates Congressional support for efforts to promote inclusivity and accessibility for people with disabilities around the world. Read More
U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act to help ease the burden of transitioning to college for students with disabilities. The legislation would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) and clarify that students with previous documentation of a disability would be able to continue using that documentation as proof when they transition to higher education. This would help ensure students who receive special education or accommodations because of a disability do not need to spend time and money to go through unnecessary new diagnostic testing. Read More
Today, U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) pressured the Trump Administration to provide answers to the American public following a report from the New York Times this week that the White House is working with the Social Security Administration (SSA) on a proposal to monitor social media accounts of Americans who claim disability benefits. The Senators' letter raises several questions about the proposal related to the privacy of American citizens, the already limited resources available to SSA workers, the use of artificial intelligence, and plans to increase the scope of the social media monitoring program. Read More
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) led a number of his colleagues in calling on Walmart CEO Doug McMillon to ensure that the company uphold its commitment to workers with disabilities. Recent reports of updated job requirements and the elimination of positions altogether highlight the disproportionate impact that changes in policy can have on individuals with disabilities. Specifically, the Senators inquired about the company's decision to eliminate the greeter position and its efforts to make "reasonable accommodations" for employees hurt by this move. Read More
Following the Trump Administration's recent announcement that it would side with the 20 States in the case of Texas V. U.S., a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the current health care law (including consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions), U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) led a number of his colleagues in introducing a resolution to authorize the Senate Legal Counsel to intervene to defend these vital health care protections. Read More
As the Trump Administration recently argued in a court brief that the ACA's protections for preexisting conditions should be ruled unconstitutional, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement: Read More
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released a statement on the recently announced health care premium increases in Pennsylvania as a result of ongoing attempts by congressional Republicans and the Administration to sabotage our health care system: Read More