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Speaking before a crowd on Capitol Hill, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said expanding federal benefits for people with disabilities is “a civil rights issue.” The senator, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, is also the sponsor of the Community Choice Act, one of two proposals introduced this year that that would significantly expand federal assistance for people in need of long-term care. Harkin and other advocates of the measures are folding their efforts into President Obama’s push for health-care reform. At issue is the government-funded Medicaid program, which serve the disabled and elderly. The Community Choice Act would reform Medicaid to give recipients eligible for institutional-level care the choice of receiving in-home or community-based assistance rather than nursing home care. Currently, individuals seeking in-home care must apply through a waiver program — but there’s a long waiting line. HELP Chairman Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) has sponsored a ... keep reading »
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will meet Wednesday in Washington to consider new regulations covering the recently amended Americans with Disabilities Act. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. at EEOC agency headquarters and will be open to the public. The 2008 Amendments Act, which was signed by President George Walker Bush and went into effect Jan. 1, 2009, emphasizes that the definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA and generally shall not require extensive analysis. The Act also makes important changes to the definition of the term “disability” by rejecting the holdings in several Supreme Court decisions and portions of EEOC’s ADA regulations. The effect of these changes is to make it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the ... keep reading »
Retired U.S. General Eric K. Shinseki, the new Veterans Affairs secretary, said he will work reduce the six-month delays in paying veterans’ disability claims, and he wants to move quickly toward an all-electronic claims system that could accelerate the process. In a recent testimony to Congress, Shinseki said the VA is looking at a major switch that would phase out paper processing, possibly by 2012. In the meantime, the VA will hire 1,100 more staff this year to deal with the backlog of cases. “This is a brute-force solution,” Shinseki told the House Veterans Affairs Committee, adding that a technological format is needed “to ensure timely, accurate consistent decision-making on behalf of our veterans. Shinseki also said he was launching a topdown review of his embattled department and reiterated his promise to submit a “credible and adequate 2010 budget request” that will be cost-effective while fully sensitive to veterans in need. keep reading »

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