Healthcare in the United States is still transforming. As medical innovations accelerate, policymakers, on the other hand, are seeking modern approaches to healthcare policy. Over time, people with disabilities haven't always had a voice in the health care debate. Consequently, society hasn't provided services and support people with disabilities need to live well, work, and participate in our communities.
People with disabilities have experienced numerous challenges in America for decades, but hero like Bob Casey have stood out for speaking for the community. Robert Patrick Casey Jr. is a politician and attorney and has served as the United States Senator of Pennsylvania since 2007. Senator Casey is a member of multiple Senate committees, including Finance, Health, Labor, Education, Pensions, Nutrition, Agriculture, Forestry, the Joint Economic Committee, and the Special Committee on Aging.
Bob Casey was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In 1982, he graduated from The College of the Holy Cross. Casey spent the majority of the following years teaching fifth-grade students while at the same time coaching basketballers from the eighth grade at Jesuit Volunteer Corps located in inner-city Philadelphia. Later in 1988, Casey graduated from Catholic University, and immediately after, he started practicing his law career in Scranton.
Back in 2007, when Bob Casey got elected to the US Senate, a good percentage of the nation either lacked proper health insurance or insurance companies available at the time would discriminate against patients with pre-existing health conditions. Those were dark days when the health care system paid for the healthcare provided instead of the quality. But thankfully, as a nation, we've seen a lot of transformation over the years.
In 2010, Bob Casey supported ACA- the Affordable Care ACT with its four goals: independent living, equal opportunity, full participation, and economic self-sufficiency. This has been one of the most transformational things for people with disabilities. It ensures people with disabilities are fairly treated when seeking health insurance and that the companies don't discriminate against anyone with existing conditions. This was a pivotal moment as ACA laid a strong foundation for reforms that ensure the provision of quality healthcare
On top of that, Bob Casey was also the primary Senate Author of Stephen Beck's A Better Life Experience ACT in 2014. This was another crucial moment as this ACT makes it possible for people with disabilities before age 26 to save up to $15,000 yearly and $100,000 without losing their federal disability benefits. Since the ACT was passed, states across the US have created ABLE account programs where people with disabilities can save up for their small business capital, education, home mortgage, or even a car. Later in 2017, Casey introduced an ABLE ACT amendment ABLE Financial Planning ACT, allowing people with disabilities with 529 savings accounts to roll over the funds into their ABLE Account. Further, an ABLE Age Adjustment Act expanded ABLE eligibility to people who are 46 years old.
Notably, Casey is also a co-sponsor of the Disability Integration ACT. This reform ensures people with disabilities have the necessary support to live in settings and communities of choice. The 1965 Security Amendment that created the Medicaid program provides that people with disabilities who need long-term services are well supported. Unfortunately, while the Amendment guaranteed institutional care, it didn't guarantee community-based support. But since the Disability Integration Act was passed, it has allowed people with disabilities equal access to community-based services, support, and opportunities.
In addition, Casey is the author of POWADA (Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act). When workers age and start developing disabilities, they can experience unfair treatment and discrimination from employers. While we must be keen on the rights of all disabled workers, extra emphasis must be put on the rights of older employees. That's because they often have a harder time getting hired or retaining their jobs. Luckily, POWADA protects older workers with disabilities from being discriminated against by their employers.
Bob was also the primary sponsor of and worked to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in 2014. (WIOA). This law focuses on young people with disabilities, providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to transition from school to the workforce. The law focuses on gaining work experience for young people with disabilities through internships, part-time work, summer jobs, and volunteer opportunities. He was also the primary author of the Higher Education Mental Health Act. This bill would establish a set of best practices to assist students with mental health disabilities to continue their education while receiving the necessary support.
In 2017 and 2018, he spent much of his time protecting the access to Medicaid for people with disabilities and their families. Casey says that, along with many of his colleagues, he will continue fighting for Medicaid access so that people living with disabilities continue to receive high-quality health care allowing them to work and live in their communities. Bob Casey has undoubtedly fought hard for the disability community. Throughout this Congressional session, he has introduced or co-sponsored several bills that will make it easier for people with disabilities to gain access to everything they need to work competitive jobs and live in their communities.