Back in August, Fifth Freedom sent out disability issues survey to election candidates running for Indiana congressional seats and the Indiana State House. We ignored races where candidates were running unopposed, and sent the survey to the Indiana Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian Party headquarters, and when contact information was available, directly to the candidates themselves. We received answers from seven candidates: running for US Congress in Indiana’s 6th district: Tom Ferkinhoff and Jeannine Lee Lake, and running for the Indiana General Assembly, Loretta Barnes (District 13), Sue Errington (District 34), Dee M. Moore (District 18), Clyde Myers (District 59) and Frank Szczepanski (District 4).
Fifth Freedom would like to offer our sincere thanks to all the candidates who responded to the survey and shared their views with Indiana’s disability community.
These are the results of the Fifth Freedom 2018 Candidate Survey. “AC” means a question asked of All Candidates. “FC” means a question asked of Federal Candidates. “IC” means a question asked of Indiana Candidates.
- AC1 – Employment – In 2017, only 18.7% of people with disabilities were employed, compared to 65.7% of the non-disabled population. This enormous employment gap is one of the most significant issues for people with disabilities, and impacts everything from their access to healthcare to their ability to vote. How would you address the disability employment gap in Indiana?
- AC2 – Voting By Mail – Would you support voting by mail in Indiana? Why or why not?
- AC3 – Absentee Ballots – Have you used an absentee ballot? What did you think of this experience?
- AC4 – Redistricting – Do you think our redistricting process could be better? How would you improve it?
- FC1 – Backlog of Social Security Disability Claims More than one million people are waiting for their applications for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration to be determined. Roughly 3/4 of applicants for disability benefits have their cases decided within about nine months and, if denied, decide not to appeal. The Social Security Administration is attempting to reduce the backlog by hiring 500 new administrative law judges and 600 support staff. Do you think this is sufficient? If not, how else would you address the backlog of disability benefits claims?
- FC2 – Early Intervention According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 40 percent of children under the age of 5 years are at risk of a developmental delay or disability. Of those, 26 percent are at moderate to high risk of developmental delay. Do you have any plans to address this issue?
- FC3 – Accessibility and the ADA Earlier this year, the House passed the ADA Education and Reform Act (HR 620). This bill would amend the ADA to add requirements for filing ADA civil actions. As passed in the House, the bill would require people with disabilities who encounter accessibility barriers at public businesses to provide written notice to the owner or operator. The owner or operator would then have sixty days to respond with “a written description outlining improvements that will be made to remove the barrier”, and then an additional sixty days to actually begin making the improvements. All together, people with disabilities would have to wait a hundred and twenty days before filing an ADA civil action. Do you support this bill? How would you balance protecting businesses from frivolous lawsuits and protecting the rights of people with disabilities?
- FC4 – Home and Community-Based Services The Money Follows the Person (MFP) program has helped over 75,000 people with chronic conditions and disabilities transition from nursing homes and institutions back into the community. MFP was designed to increase the use of home and community-based services and reduce the use of institutionally-based services. MFP expired in 2016. Would you support extending MFP or a similar program? Why or why not?
- FC5 – ABLE Accounts Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts allow people with disabilities to save for their future and pay for disability-related expenses without jeopardizing their access to public benefits. Currently, the accounts are only available to people who were diagnosed with a disability before the age of 26. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act (SB 817 / HR 1874) would increase the age limit to age 46, allowing millions more people with disabilities to save for housing, healthcare, transportation, and other expenses. Would you support increasing the age limit for ABLE Accounts? Why or why not?
- FC7 – Senior Fraud According to the Government Accountability Office, financial fraud costs seniors nearly $3 billion a year. Every year, thousands of seniors are victims of IRS impersonation scams, computer tech support scams, unsolicited phone calls, and more. How would you help protect seniors from scams, identity theft, elder financial abuse, and other financial fraud?
- IC1 – Adult Protective Services – According to the Indiana General Assembly’s Interim Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code, “Adult Protective Services (APS) is presently underfunded, and… the current system lacks the meaningful involvement of a social work component.” Do you agree with this assessment? What changes to APS funding would you make, if any?
- IC2 – Civil Rights – Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime law. An attempt to pass such a law failed at the Indiana Statehouse for the second year in a row. The bill would have allowed judges to impose tougher sentences for crimes motivated by disability, race, religion, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Would you support a hate crime law? Why or why not?
- IC3 – Medical Marijuana – The Indiana Statehouse has seen multiple medical marijuana bills introduced and fail to pass. In the 2018 session, SB 294 would have legalized sale of cannabidiol (an active chemical compound that can be extracted from marijuana) for use in treating epilepsy. Cannabidiol has been seen to be an anticonvulsant in animals, and may be useful in helping people with Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that is difficult to treat. Would you support legalizing the sale of cannabidiol and/or medical marijuana? Why or why not?
- IC4 – Medicaid – Indiana requires Medicaid beneficiaries to pay premiums that go into their health savings accounts, called Personal Wellness and Responsibility (POWER) accounts. However, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that only 36% of Medicaid beneficiaries were making regular payments to their health savings accounts, 9% of Medicaid beneficiaries had been locked out of their benefits due to not making payments, and 39% of Medicaid beneficiaries hadn’t even heard of POWER accounts. What do you believe is the source of these problems with POWER accounts, and how would you address it?
- IC5 – Mental Health – In the 2018 session of the Indiana Statehouse, SB 255 would have required a school corporation’s health education curriculum to include mental health wellness education. However, the bill failed to advance beyond the Education and Career Development Committee. Do you believe mental health education is an important issue? Would you support a similar bill in the future?
- IC6 – Public Transportation – In 2018, the US Department of Transportation announced a $75 million grant agreement for a Bus Rapid Transit Project in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, the Gary Public Transportation Corporation was reducing services, even cutting paratransit for people with disabilities. How would you address the disparity between public transit in Indianapolis and the rest of the state?
- IC7 – Home and Community-Based Services – AARP regularly publishes “scorecards” rating states for their long-term services and supports for older adults, people with disabilities, and family caregivers. The last three scorecards (2017, 2014, and 2011) all showed Indiana in the bottom ten. How would you address improving Indiana’s long-term services for older adults, people with disabilities, and family caregivers?
Fifth Freedom is a not-for-profit organization that strives at all times to be non-partisan. This content is provided for information purposes only, and does not express or imply support for any particular political party, politician, candidate for office, or piece of legislation.
[table id=2 datatables_columnfilter=true /]