Capitol Comments

Two Kentucky representatives — Rep. Al Gentry and Rep. Brandon Reed — have crossed party lines to co-chair a caucus focused on issues facing people with disabilities. The bipartisan caucus is currently comprised of nine republicans and nine democrats.

Gentry, who lost his dominant arm in a workplace accident when he was 28, uses his experience to empower others through sports and advocacy, and hopes to see the caucus thrive in years to come.

“The mission of the Engage and Empower Caucus is to open up a direct pathway...

Fear of losing Medicaid coverage can deter people with disabilities from entering the labor market. Medicaid buy-in programs allow workers with disabilities to purchase Medicaid coverage that enables them to participate in the workforce without losing health care benefits. A large majority of states such as Colorado, Illinois and Ohio, amongst others, are participating in or pursuing these kinds of programs.

In 2003, New York implemented the Medicaid Buy-In for Working People with Disabilities program, or MBI-WPD. In doing...

Boston, Chicago, D.C., Las Vegas, Toronto, San Francisco and New York City are improving their paratransit options through an Uber initiative. Since Uber’s launch, the company has invested in ensuring that its features and technologies are accessible to all users. In November 2018, Uber, a CSG Associate member, announced plans to widely expand paratransit for individuals using wheelchairs and other motorized mobilization devices.
Wheelchair accessible rides are available through Uber WAV. These rides are priced at the same as an Uber X. Six of the eight cities listed above have a wait time of fifteen minutes or less, and Uber is working to achieve the same success in the other two cities over the next few months. Half of Uber’s business in the United States and Canada is represented by the eight cities that have launched this initiative. Uber plans to learn from these cities and expand this model across the country.

Apprenticeships are an avenue of education and training that allow people to receive valuable knowledge and job skills without attaining a college degree.
In June 2017, President Donald Trump released the Presidential Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America, which promotes the easing of regulatory burdens surrounding apprenticeship programs and encourages third-party development of apprenticeship programs. Allowing more businesses, nonprofits, labor-management organizations and professional associations to become certifiers of apprenticeship programs offers a new entryway to the workforce in a variety of fields. The purpose of the industry-recognized apprenticeship program, often referred to as IRAP, is to break down barriers in order to expand apprenticeship opportunities.

Eight states have launched projects aiming to provide opportunities for people who experience mid-career disabilities to remain in and return to the workforce. After a competitive selection process, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in partnership with DOL’s Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration awarded eight states with funding for RETAIN Demonstration Projects.
The goal of RETAIN, or Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network, Demonstration Projects is to test the impact of early intervention strategies that improve stay-at-work/return-to-work outcomes. Stay-at-work/return-to-work initiatives provide timely and effective supports and services that allow employees to remain in the workforce and avoid long-term unemployment. Keeping people engaged in the workplace benefits all stakeholders including the employee, employer and state.

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