Bernie Sanders believes disability rights are civil rights. He will be a president who will champion both protecting and expanding the rights of the tens of millions of Americans with disabilities.
As many of you know, I am disabled because of living with cystinosis. It’s an ultra-rare disease that is slowly destroying my organs. Because of this disease, I rely on social programs such as Medicaid and Social Security. Bernie is the only candidate that has the boldest and most aggressive policy on disability rights.
I know that as president, Bernie will not only put forward aggressive policy proposals and self-determination for all, he will also incorporate disability issues into every other area of public policy, including housing, health care, education, transportation, technology, and many others.
As president, Bernie will end the privatization of Medicaid by instructing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reject both renewals of and new proposals for placing disability and aging services under the control of for-profit managed care organizations.
Further, one-third of adults with disabilities ages 18-44 skipped receiving the care they need because of cost (CDC). Unfortunately, I am part of that statistic because Iowa Medicaid has refused to cover my medically necessary care such as treatment for a sleep disorder and a neurological disorder.
Bernie would end this by guaranteeing health care as a human right by enacting Medicare for All.
Additionally, I do not get the care I need because of the cost of the mediations that I take. One medicine alone costs over $97,000 a month. Bernie will stop the pharmaceutical industry from ripping off people with disabilities by making sure no one in America pays more than $200 a year for the medicine we need by capping what we pay for prescription drugs.
Bernie will do this through Medicare for All and using executive authority. He will exercise federal march-in rights to produce lower-priced generic versions of medications that were originally developed at tax-payer expense, such as the medication that I take. He will also issue an HHS certification for a drug importation program to allow American pharmacists and wholesalers to purchase lower-priced FDA-approved prescription medications from Canada.
Because of my health and in turn my disability I rely on programs such as Social Security. Unfortunately, because of the backlog, I’m still waiting for a hearing. Thousands of Americans have died waiting for their own hearing. Bernie believes this is unacceptable.
Bernie wants to ensure dignity for Americans with disabilities including myself by expanding benefits. Specifically, Bernie will protect and expand the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs and end the massive disability backlog to end waitlists for people like me living with disabilities to access their earned benefits. He will also expand benefits across-the-board for all Social Security beneficiaries, including SSI, and increase and index the SSI benefit level so that it is equal to 125 percent of the poverty line.
Lastly, as president, Bernie will eliminate the $81 billion in past-due medical debt. He will reform bankruptcy laws to use the existing bankruptcy court system, to provide relief to those with burdensome medical debt, and he will remove and exclude medical debt from existing credit reports.