Mike Weaver of Charlotte, NC, is Chair of the NAMI NC (National Alliance on Mental Illness NC) Consumer Council and a newly elected member of NAMI’s National Board of Directors. Next week he will be going to Washington, DC, to join other persons with disabilities in a meeting at the White House.
Weaver is among four people with mental illness scheduled to attend a July 26th White House event, which has been organized to mark the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.).
“The president wants to mingle and meet and talk to people with disabilities where the law has made a difference in their lives,” said Andrew Sperling, director of legislative advocacy for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).”
As President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sibelius, points out, passing the ADA “took the whole disability community banding together, legislators from each party showing unusual courage, and years of hard work – and the final bill was more than many had thought was possible. The ADA was passed by a Democratic Congress with bipartisan support, and it was signed into law by President H. W. Bush in 1990.
- It broke down barriers in housing and the workplace, schools and shopping malls, telecommunications and public transportation. But there was one key form of discrimination that it left standing: discrimination in the health insurance market.”
The exemption of protections for discrimination in health insurance coverage was the result of an acknowledgement by the supporters of the ADA 20 years ago, that the bill would not pass, if this important protection was included.
Unfortunately for persons with disabilities not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, this led to decades in which “Americans with disabilities have been more likely to be mistreated by insurance companies or to fall into our health insurance system’s coverage gaps, no one will gain more from ending that mistreatment and closing those gaps.”
Now the Disability Community, led by the American Association for Persons with Disabilities AAPD), and its President, Andy Imparato, will have a double celebration in 2010. As Sec. Sibelius stated in a speech on July 14, 2010:
- “In fact, the Affordable Care Act will do more to give Americans with disabilities control over their lives than any legislation since the ADA.
- For one thing, the new law is going to restore some fairness to our health insurance markets. For years, insurance companies have been allowed to pick and choose who they gave coverage to. The result for many Americans with disabilities was being shut out of the insurance market altogether.
- While the young will be the first age group to benefit from the new protections afforded persons with disabilities by the Affordable Care Act, eventually the elderly and severely disabled will also benefit thanks to the CLASS Act. Americans with disabilities, who have long been shut out of the private long-term care insurance market, will soon have an opportunity to pay into a program that provides a long-term benefit.And the rest of the nation will now be able to get the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’ll have choice and control, if they ever have to rely on long-term services.”