This year's 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides an opportunity to reflect on its successes and recommit to achieving the vision of full participation in community life for all Americans, including people with disabilities.
The ADA has profoundly changed how our nation views and accommodates its citizens with disabilities. Countless people, their families and communities have benefited.
While many positive changes came about after the ADA was enacted, people with disabilities continued to face a serious obstacle in accessing health insurance because they were excluded due to pre-existing conditions. The health care law, the Affordable Care Act, knocks down that barrier by ending discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. The elimination of that practice will benefit countless people with disabilities, their families, and their communities, throughout their lives.
To help our country find common solutions to the challenges of community living, regardless of age or disability, I announced in April the creation of the new Administration for Community Living (ACL). ACL combines what was the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities into a single agency. As a single agency, ACL has the expertise and resources to support cross-cutting initiatives while maintaining efforts focused on the unique needs of people with disabilities and seniors.
In addition to the creation of this important new agency, our Office for Civil Rights continues to play a critical role in protecting the ADA rights of individuals to access state and local health care and social services free without discrimination on the basis of their disability and to live in their own homes and communities rather than institutions.
Our goal is for all Americans, including people with disabilities, to live healthier, more prosperous, and more productive lives.