Senator Kamala Harris Unveils Disability Plan Focusing on Accessibility

Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) released a plan for ensuring that Americans with disabilities have equal access to employment, education, healthcare, and housing opportunities.

The 2020 Democratic White House hopeful’s plan details how her Medicare for All plan will assist Americans with disabilities, along with expanding employment opportunities and equal access to education. Harris’ plan makes her the only presidential candidate with a plan for Americans with disabilities.

"As President, Harris will expand access to health care, fight for integrated employment opportunities and fair wages, ensure our emergency preparedness and disaster programs are fully inclusive, fight to adequately fund classrooms to ensure equal access, build a diverse federal workforce that includes people with disabilities and fight for the civil rights of people with disabilities across the country," Harris’ campaign wrote in a press release, according to the news station.

The plan includes passing the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, which would create a grant program encouraging businesses and employers to hire more people with disabilities. Harris’ plan will also expand and increase funding for the Department of Education’s vocational rehabilitation system, which helps provide workplace accommodations.

Harris’s plan would also require that the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s projects exhibit ful accessibility in order to qualify for federal funding, according to the news station. The presidential candidate’s plan also covers long-term, in-home services and early screening for individuals with disabilities, Reuters reported.

“When we ensure that every American with disabilities is able to fully participate in our schools, our workplaces, and all aspects of our communities, our country is stronger,” Harris said in a statement.

In July, Harris released her Medicare for All plan, which would “cover all medically necessary services, including emergency room visits, doctor visits, vision, dental, hearing aids, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, and comprehensive reproductive health care services,” the plan states.

The plan would also expand mental healthcare programs, as well as “institute a serious audit of prescription drug costs to ensure pharmaceutical companies are not charging more than other comparable countries, a comprehensive maternal child health program to dramatically reduce deaths among women and infants of color, and meaningful rural health care reforms, such as increasing residency slots for rural areas with workforce shortages and loan forgiveness for rural health care professionals, to promote high quality access for people regardless of their zip code,” according to the proposal.

“Right now, the American health care system is a patchwork of plans, providers and costs that have left people frustrated, powerless and insurance companies in charge. And the bottom line is that health care just costs too much,” Harris wrote in her plan.

Since announcing her Democratic presidential candidacy, Harris has unveiled multiple plans that she says she will execute if elected. In June, the California Senator released an immigration plan that would use executive action to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants and protect Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the US when they were children.

The proposal plans to protect up to six million undocumented immigrants from deportation and give 2.1 million Dreamers a pathway to citizenship. Harris’s plan would reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect Dreamers . The plan would also expand the DACA program by eliminating the rule that Dreamers need to apply for eligibility before turning 31-years-old.

Harris’s immigration plan would also protect the parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents from being deported and protect undocumented immigrants who are law-abiding citizens “with ties to their communities.” The plan would “consider factors such as service in the military, extended residence in the United States, and whether an individual has deferred action-beneficiary children, spouses, or parents.”

“Dreamers grew up in our communities and pledge allegiance to our flag. They serve in our military and thrive in our universities. Their families are an integral part of our country and economy,” the plan reads. “They represent the best of who we are and know no other place but the United States as their home.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.