2020 Presidential Primary Candidate Survey on Disability
Michael Bennett’s Responses
Employment: What are your views on paying a subminimum wage based on disability?
Oppose. Michael does not support paying a subminimum wage based on disability.
Assistive Technology: What do you plan to do to increase access to assistive technology for people with disabilities who need it to effectively and independently engage in their communities?
Michael would direct his Administration to prioritize innovation that improves outcomes for people with disabilities and allows them to maintain their independence. His agenda would include directing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to incorporate assistive technology in demonstrations and to work with other agencies to ensure that these technologies are both accessible and affordable. Michael’s administration would also establish a public-private partnership to stress the inclusion of people with disabilities as the private sector develops new technologies.
Special Education: How would you propose to strengthen the IDEA when it is reauthorized so that it truly fulfills its stated purpose of preparing children with disabilities for post-secondary education, employment, and independent living, including children with the most significant disabilities?
As a former school superintendent, Michael believes IDEA is one of our country’s core civil rights laws.
He was proud to sign the Senate amicus brief in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School Dist. RE–1 to ensure the law was interpreted as it was intended, and that students with disabilities have access to an education that meets their needs and best prepares them to succeed.
Michael believes that while have made tremendous progress since IDEA was passed, we have a lot more work to do.
First and foremost, it is past time that Congress fulfills its promise to fully fund IDEA.
In addition, Michael will work the disability community, with students and with schools to craft improvements to the law that address the current shortcomings in district implementation and compliance, and to ensure that the training and transitional provisions meet the needs, standards, and expectations for this modern economy.
Michael believes that the federal government has an essential responsibility to ensure every student with a disability, in every classroom, in every district, and in every state has the chance to have a rewarding future and he commits to living up to that responsibility under his presidency.
Mental Health Services: What is your vision for a system of services to support people with mental illness?
Michael would work to integrate mental health with other primary care services to ensure that adults and children are screened and treated for both physical and mental health conditions. He would remove regulatory hurdles for providers who treat people with mental illnesses, and direct his Administration to enforce mental health parity so that health plans are required to cover mental health and substance use disorder treatment at the same rate they would cover medical or surgical benefits. Additionally, Michael’s public option, Medicare-X, includes mental health and substance use disorder treatment as an essential health benefit. We also have to protect Medicaid and Medicaid expansion for those who rely on those programs for mental health treatment.
Workforce Shortage: Please explain how you would address this immediate and growing workforce shortage?
Michael believes that need to create an economy in which every American who wants to work can get a good job that pays a living wage. Too often, critical roles like direct support professionals do not pay enough for people to make ends meet, resulting in high rates of turnover and job openings. Michael would raise the minimum wage, dramatically expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, increase the Child Tax Credit through the American Family Act, and put in place paid family and medical leave to help direct support professionals achieve the stability in their jobs and lives that allows them to play the important role that they do without worrying about their own ability to support themselves and their families. Michael would also protect vital programs like Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance that have been under threat by Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress.