October 19, 1999
The Administration has a deep and long-standing commitment to empowering
and promoting the independence of people with disabilities, including
removal of barriers for them to work. While the Administration supports
H.R. 1180, there are policy and funding concerns that must be addressed.
The President endorsed similar legislation last year, funded the proposal
in his FY 2000 Budget, and urged the Congress to pass it in his State of
the Union address. In addition, on several occasions, he has renewed his
challenge to the Congress to pass legislation so that people with
disabilities can work without fear of losing the health care they need.
The Administration, however, does remain seriously concerned that H.R. 1180 fails to provide certain key supports for individuals with disabilities who are returning to work that were included in the President's FY 2000 Budget as well as in the Senate-passed and House Commerce Committee versions of the bill. In particular:
In addition, the Administration opposes the provision (Section 409) in H.R. 1180 that would modify the formula for calculating lender and secondary market interest payments on Department of Education guaranteed student loans. This change would undermine the HEA agreement on lender yields made just last year. The proposal would significantly increase lender and secondary market profits by transferring economic risk -- and potential cost -- to the Federal government while providing no additional benefits to students.
Americans with disabilities can and do bring tremendous talent and energy to the American workforce. We must not put people with disabilities in the untenable position of choosing between health care coverage and work. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to enact landmark bipartisan legislation that takes a significant step towards improving work opportunities for people with disabilities by increasing their access to health care and employment services, while assuring that the bill's financing is adequate and based on sound policy.
H.R. 1180 would affect direct spending and receipts; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. The Office of Management and Budget's preliminary scoring estimate for the bill is under development.