The Presidential Policy Series covers where the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively, stand on healthcare policy issues.
Although it seems like our country’s two main political parties are as polarized as can possibly be, there actually has been a few health issues that both Republicans and Democrats have historically agreed on. Disability rights have traditionally been one such example.
Going back to 1990, the monumental Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was authored by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, passed by an overwhelming margin in the Senate and the House. President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, signed the act into law and applauded the bipartisan effort of Republicans and Democrats. Eighteen years later, President George W. Bush, also a Republican, followed in his father’s footsteps when he signed expansions of the ADA into law after receiving approval a Democrat-controlled Congress.
However, this long-standing trend of bipartisanship support has been questioned of late. In 2012, Senate Republicans blocked the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty, despite a broad, bipartisan coalition. Republicans were split, and the Senate was unable to obtain the necessary two-thirds of votes to ratify the treaty. On top of that, this presidential campaign has only added to the uncertainty. Hillary Clinton has made disability rights a focus of her campaign, promoting her policy agenda in speeches and commercials. Whereas Mr. Trump has been criticized for making insensitive remarks and actions of those with disabilities, calling for less “political correctness.”
While disability rights are taking center stage with the two main candidates presenting different views, future bipartisanship still remains a likely outcome based on previously recorded party positions.
Republicans call for policy that supports the inherent rights of individuals with disabilities. The G.O.P. platform vows to support those rights by guaranteeing access to the necessary tools and education to “compete in the mainstream of society.” Republicans support increased access to education and competitive employment, and vehemently oppose non-consensual withholding of care or treatment of those with disabilities.
Democrats’ position on disability does not differ all that much from Republicans. They support “equal access, equal rights, and equal opportunities to make a life for themselves and to contribute to their communities.” Democrats support Secretary Clinton’s agenda, which vows to fulfill the promise of the ADA and continues to expand the opportunities for individuals with disabilities, especially improving access to meaningful and gainful employment, as well as housing in integrated community settings.
For the benefit of the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities, let’s hope we follow in history’s path with policy that both parties can agree on.
Eric Conner is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and co-founder of Healthify. At Healthify, he serves as the Chief Revenue Officer — managing sales and marketing operations. Eric works with healthcare companies to help them use Healthify in an effective manner that allows staff to track Medicaid beneficiaries' social and behavioral health needs and connect them with the appropriate community services for care. Before co-founding Healthify, he did community health work in east Baltimore.