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Report: Clinton To Expand Medicaid

November 30, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ President Clinton will propose expanding Medicaid and Medicare in his upcoming budget so that people with disabilities can retain health benefits when they return to work, The New York Times reported today.

Many people with disabilities say they haven’t returned to work because they fear losing medical benefits under the health programs.

Eight million disabled people of working age receive more than $50 billion a year in cash benefits from Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. Fewer than 1 percent return to work, the Times reported.

``Many of us are unable to go to work because if we do, we will lose our Medicaid and Medicare,″ said Paul Spooner of the National Council on Independent Living, a nonprofit group that assists people with disabilities. ``That is a risk we cannot take. Our very lives depend on the prescriptions, personal assistance, technology, therapy and medical care we receive.″

The number of people receiving disability benefits has risen 60 percent in the last decade, and federal officials have concluded that they must find ways to get more back to work.

The newspaper, citing administration officials, said the president’s proposal creates these new options:

_People who become ineligible for Social Security disability benefits because they return to work could continue their Medicare coverage.

_People with disabilities could buy Medicaid coverage even if working disqualified them from the Supplemental Security Income program.

_Workers with disabilities could buy Medicaid coverage even if they became ineligible for cash benefits because of medical improvements in their conditions. Officials said many people with HIV, the AIDS virus, would keep their benefits while they work.

The proposal is similar to legislation drafted earlier this year by Sens. James Jeffords, R-Vt., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., whose bill did not reach the floor of either house before the Senate adjourned in October.

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