Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Activist Helps Draft Federal Disability Rights Legislation

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Activist Helps Draft Federal Disability Rights Legislation

Article excerpt

A Topeka disability rights activist worked with a New York senator to draft legislation aimed at improving the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mike Oxford, director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, said Tuesday that he helped draft the Disability Integration Act, introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

"We took a civil rights approach. It's a civil rights bill," Oxford said. "We have rights under the law and that's never been fully realized."

Under the legislation, any state that provides long-term services to disabled citizens would be barred from denying them home and community-based care.

"Individuals with disabilities have the right to live independent, fulfilling lives amongst their families and friends," Schumer said in a speech Thursday, "but right now, they are often denied the kind of at-home services and supports that then keep them in institutional settings, far from their loved ones and communities."

States would be unable to use a waiting list or screening process "that delays or restricts access" to home and community-based care for disabled individuals if the bill is passed.

"It addresses the unfinished promise of the ADA," Oxford said, referring to the 1990 law's guarantee of independent living for individuals with disabilities. The Schumer bill comes with a financial incentive for states. Those that comply within a yet- undetermined time frame could receive up to a 5 percent boost in their annual Medicaid funding from the federal government. …

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