Congress Takes Steps to Undermine the ADA

Many have heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but may not know all of the details. The ADA is the federal law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination in a variety of ways.

The ADA was passed by Congress in 1990, more than 28 years ago.  Congress improved protections in the ADA in 2008 by passing the ADA Amendments Act.  Most people are familiar with its physical access requirements, such as having accessible parking spots, ramps into buildings, and accessible restrooms. However, despite its age, many who are protected by the ADA, don’t know it.

In addition to physical access requirements, the ADA also provides protections for people with disabilities in the workplace.  Title I of the ADA requires that covered employers provide eligible employees with protection against discrimination and rights to privacy, as well as access to reasonable accommodations. For more information about these protections and how they apply to individuals diagnosed with cancer AND their caregivers, visit:

The ADA also provides protections for children, adolescents, and young adults with disabilities in school, including those diagnosed with cancer.

Approximately 36% of adults ages 65 and over have some type of disability. Learn 7 facts about Americans with disabilities.

This month, Congress took a step to erode the protections in the ADA.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed (252-192) the ADA Education and Reform Act, which forbids individuals with disabilities from suing a business for violating their rights under the ADA, unless they first:

  1. Provide written notice to the business that they are in violation of the ADA
  2. Wait 6 months to see if the business fixed the violation

Opponents of the bill argue that this allows businesses to refuse to comply with the ADA, until an individual with a disability sends them a written complaint and then they get another 6 months to comply. Meanwhile, the individual with a disability is unable to access that hospital, doctor’s office, restaurant, store, movie theater, hotel, or other public place.

Advocates for people with disabilities are skeptical that businesses need more time to comply with a law that was enacted almost thirty years ago.

In what other area of society do we allow a business to ignore a law until someone sends them a written complaint?

Oh, wait.  That sounds a lot like health insurance appeals.

The bill now awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate. For more information about how to be an effective advocate, visit Stay tuned.





Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.
– Joyce Meyer

When you apply for a new job, you may face a waiting period before your new employer
gives you access to certain employee benefits, such as health insurance coverage.

These waiting periods often used to be anywhere from 30 Waitingdays to 6 months.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “heath care reform” or “Obamacare,” limited the time period that employers can make you wait for health insurance benefits to 90 days.

The ACA also requires most U.S. Citizens and those lawfully present in the U.S. to have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty, which is referred to as the individual mandate.  One of the exceptions to the individual mandate is that you are allowed to have one gap in coverage each year, up to 3 months.

The federal government limited the waiting period for benefits to 90 days and allowed people to have a gap in coverage up to 90 days because they were aware this may be an issue for people who are moving between jobs.

California went one step further and passed a state law that limited waiting periods to 60 days.

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown, signed a new law (SB 1034) that took a step backward and changed the limitation on waiting periods to 90 days.  This brings California law in line with the federal law under the ACA.

So, if you are looking at a new job know that the waiting period for benefits cannot be longer than 90 days.  And if you currently do not have help insurance coverage and are curious how to get coverage until your waiting period is over, COBRA may be an option, you may qualify for a special enrollment period to buy a plan in your state health insurance marketplace or you may qualify for Medicaid in your state.