Candidates' positions on disability issues

October 26, 2008 7:28:41 AM PDT
A variety of issues have been debated during the campaign, including issues pertaining to voters with disabilities.With 40 million Americans with disabilities eligible to vote, many are looking at the candidates' positions on disability issues.

"Obama has supported community choice and things that McCain didn't support or didn't co-sponsor. McCain co-sponsored the combating Autism Act and Obama didn't co-sponsor that, although he voted for it," said Beth Finke.

"The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which is the mainstay of special education funding, Senator McCain has continued to vote against increasing that appropriations, Senator Obama, in his policy statement, well, one historically has voted for increasing it," said Allan Bergman.

"Senator McCain's plan really addresses issues that are specific to autism. Autism plays just a small role in the needs of people with disabilities. Senator Obama's plan includes a number of issues that are very important to people with disabilities, and that is education, housing and employment," said John Voit.

Finke, Bergman and Voit are just a few people who are concerned about the future for people with disabilities.

Bergman has spent more than 40 years working on behalf of people with disabilities. He also has a daughter and stepdaughter with disabilities. He says health care is a major concern.

"Senator Obama is proposing universal health care, which would certainly take care of the 40 million uninsured people, but for people with disabilities, he's particularly going to target no more pre-existing condition exclusions," Bergman said. "Senator McCain is taking a very different approach, which is to provide, for the first time, a tax credit of $5,000 and, in addition, to give disincentives for employers to continue to provide health insurance by taxing the benefits to the individual employee."

Health insurance is Finke's biggest concern. She is legally blind from diabetes.

"They both have healthcare reform, but Obama's really pushes that if you lost your health insurance, another insurance company can't deny you because you have a disability," she said..

Seguin Services CEO Voit says although both candidates say they're going to address the needs of people with disabilities, "Senator Obama has a plan that's much more comprehensive than Senator McCain's. But you know, with this economy it's going to be a struggle to through that plan and be able to implement the things that Senator Obama indicated."

For voters like Alana Wallace, being able to access information on candidates' positions on disability is important.

"I have looked up both candidates' position on issues concerning people with disabilities, and I find Obama is either a co-supporter or has voted yes for bills that pertain to us," she said.

Thursday is the last day for early voting. The election is Tuesday November 4. If you want more information on the presidential candidates' positions on disabilities issues visit ABC7's NextGen Politics, www.johnmccain.com or www.barackobama.com


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