Washington, D.C. — October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual observation designed to increase awareness of the contributions and skills of American workers with disabilities. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid issued the following statement:
“Every year in October we pause to recognize the important contributions that individuals with disabilities are making in the workplace and to encourage all Americans to guarantee equal opportunities in the workforce.”
“Although the rights of people with disabilities are protected by several regulations, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is perhaps the most well known of them. Since the passing of the ADA, we have made great progress in reducing barriers in the workplace for millions of individuals with disabilities, allowing them to live fuller, more independent lives, and making America a better country.
“While we have made significant progress ensuring that citizens with disabilities have equal access to employment, transportation, public accommodations, public services, and telecommunications, we cannot overlook the challenges that still exist to protect other programs designed to strengthen the safety net for Americans with disabilities.
“Democrats will continue to fight to preserve the vital programs within Medicaid and Medicare that serve people with disabilities. We oppose cuts to the Medicaid program that the Republican Congress has tried to enact, and we will support innovative legislation that gives people more choices and freedom to decide how they will receive healthcare services.
“As the Administration implements the new Medicare drug benefit, Democrats are monitoring the transition of people with disabilities from Medicaid to the Medicare drug benefit. We will continue to fight to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the medication they need at affordable prices under the new Medicare drug plans.
“In addition, we will continue to oppose President Bush’s Social Security privatization plan, which would undermine Social Security and force deep cuts in disability benefits. Democrats will continue to work to strengthen this critical program, which helps provide financial security not only for those who become disabled, but for their families.
“America can do better, and Democrats will continue to work to ensure a future of enhanced opportunities for workers with disabilities.”