As we approach the 2016 Presidential Election (mark your calendars for November 8!), it’s time for Americans to determine who we want to be our next leader. We all have different hot-button issues and criteria we use to judge various candidates, and America’s estimated 56.7 million people living with a disability certainly have plenty to consider when it comes time to vote. Which candidate will provide meaningful support for Americans with disabilities?
Who will make disability-related issues a priority?
Unfortunately, the candidates haven’t proposed much in the way of substantive action in regards to disability issues, but let’s have a look to see where the 2016 frontrunners appear to stand on issues, like healthcare and employment, which affect Americans with disabilities.
Hillary Clinton – Clinton has outlined an overview of disability rights on her website. In regards to health care issues, she supports President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and opposes a single-payer health insurance scheme.
Bernie Sanders – Speaking of single-payer health insurance, this is where Sanders and Clinton differ in regards to health care. Sanders has stated he would end Medicare and Medicaid, and institute a universal health care plan in which all Americans are covered. In his own words: “My proposal, provide health care to all people, get private insurance out of health insurance, lower the cost of health care for middle class families…”
Donald Trump – Trump has been accused of antagonizing many groups, including people with disabilities. As for his stand on health care, Trump has pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts.
Jeb Bush – Bush wrote this piece about empowering people with disabilities on the 25th anniversary of his father signing the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. He has put forth a plan to replace Obamacare, which in his words would promote innovation, lower costs, and return power to states.
Ted Cruz – Cruz has led the charge to defund Obamacare, including an epic 21-hour marathon speech railing against it in 2013. He released an alternative plan, the Health Care Choices Act, in 2015.
Chris Christie – The former New Jersey governor has proposed dramatic changes to Social Security, including raising the retirement age to 69. You can read more about his take on issues, including his views on disability insurance, here.
Marco Rubio – Rubio has pledged to “Address Disability Stigma Head-On.” He has discussed “skills training, new technologies, and competency-based learning as ways to ‘close the gap’” for people with disabilities to find jobs.
How Will Americans with Disabilities Vote?
Of course, this is just a handful of candidates and only a brief look at what they stand for on individual issues. Those concerned with rights for Americans with disabilities should evaluate the candidates’ stances on issues such as employment and education opportunities, in addition to their views on healthcare and laws to prevent discrimination in access or hiring.
Regardless of what moves the needle for you, let’s hope the 2016 candidates make disability-related issues more of a priority. They have an opportunity to reach a sizable portion of the U.S. population if they do. And for the millions of Americans with disabilities, this is a great opportunity to elect a leader who will advocate for causes that matter to them.
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