Re "Staying Poor to Stay Alive," July 26: Your editorial about extending Medi-Cal benefits to the severely disabled so that they can join the work force states that some Republicans are opposing the bill because it isn't needed because "nonprofit groups already help the disabled find work that offers adequate insurance." I would ask these Republican legislators to please tell me what groups they're referring to.
As a California-licensed pharmacist and a paraplegic who has been unable to find employment for three years, every nonprofit hospital I've applied to has rejected me, despite 20 years experience of working in hospitals. The only work I've been able to obtain was for three months last year for a mail-out operation as a temp without any health benefits. As the editorial correctly points out, no employer-provided health plans provide personal attendant care benefits, which other severely disabled persons need.
If those in opposition are thinking of the nonprofit group Goodwill Industries as providing the disabled help to find work, Goodwill only provides sheltered workshops for severely multiple-handicapped, low-skilled individuals. No faith-based programs are hiring pharmacists or any other highly skilled college-educated disabled people, nor do they provide employment referral assistance. Those few employers who still have affirmative action plans do not include the disabled, only gender and race. Compassionate conservatives, indeed!
Bravo to Assemblywoman Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley)! Assembly Bill 925 is one of the most important pieces of legislation in the history of disability rights. [The bill would let severely disabled adults retain Medi-Cal benefits until their yearly incomes reached $75,000; it would let recipients keep up to $80,000 in assets and would remove the so-called marriage penalty.] For more than 20 years I have known people who were prevented from marrying because of the benefit penalty.
If our elected representatives are serious in their commitment to improving the lives of those with disabilities, they must show the rest of the U.S. the way and pass AB 925.