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STATEMENT OF ELMER C. BARTELS
The Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation is comprised of the chief administrators of the public agencies providing rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the territories.
These agencies constitute the state partners in the State-Federal Program of Rehabilitation Services for persons with mental and/or physical disabilities, as authorized by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, P.L. 93-112, as amended.
While the Rehabilitation Act is the cornerstone of our Nation's commitment to assisting eligible people with disabilities to obtain competitive employment and to live independent and productive lives, it is severely underfunded.
When one considers that a Louis Harris and Associates study estimates that two out of every three adults with a disability are unemployed, and that the Rehabilitation Program has the resources to provide services to only one in twenty eligible people, it constitutes an unacceptable tragedy for the millions of people with disabilities who need services, yet are unable to receive them. The great responsibility placed upon the Rehabilitation Program now becomes even more acute, with the passage and implementation of the "Americans with Disabilities Act" (ADA). The ADA will vastly expand opportunities for all Americans with disabilities. It is vital that the Rehabilitation Program be fully prepared to assist people with disabilities to fully realize the promise of this landmark legislation.
VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICES; BASIC STATE GRANTS
FY 1992 CSAVR RECOMMENDATION.
Basic State Service Grants are the lifeblood of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, financing the provision of vocational rehabilitation services to eligible individuals with mental and physical disabilities.
These Federal dollars, matched with state monies, permit State Rehabilitation Agencies to provide, or to contract with private organizations and agencies to provide, individualized, comprehensive services to eligible persons with mental and/or physical disabilities, for the purpose of rendering these individuals employed and independent.
Such services may include evaluation; comprehensive diagnostic services; counseling; physical restoration; rehabilitation engineering; the provision of various kinds of training and training supplies, tools and equipment; prosthetic devices; placement; transportation; post-employment services; and any other service necessary to rehabilitate an individual into employment. For Fiscal Year 1990, the Federal Government advises that the $1,528,500,000 appropriated for Basic State Vocational Rehabilitation served 937,951 people with disabilities, of whom approximately 23 percent were rehabilitated into employment.
Despite this expenditure, there still are not sufficient funds to serve all those eligible, disabled people who have the potential and desire to work and who need rehabilitation services to obtain employment and self-sufficiency.
Alarmingly enough, our best estimates are that State Rehabilitation Agencies are able to serve only one out or every twenty people who are eligible, due to a total lack of resources.
In FY 1990, 68.3 percent of all individuals served by State Rehabilitation Agencies are described as being "severely disabled" by the Federal Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).
In carrying out the mandate of the Act to give priority of service to the rehabilitation of individuals who are severely disabled, State Agencies have found that the costs in time, effort, and money for services are much greater than the cost of rehabilitating people less severely disabled, greater by over 50 percent.
At the same time, it is alarming to note that the purchasing power of the Federal Rehabilitation Appropriation has remained virtually stagnant since 1980. According to the Congressional Research Service, it increased by only 1.8 percent from 1980 to 1988.
This means that the Program is serving fewer people, while expending more money for services, staff training, equipment, and facilities.
With these statistics in mind, the Council strongly urges that the Congress provide Federal appropriations for Basic State Vocational Rehabilitation Services in the amount of $2,500,000,000 for Fiscal Year 1992.
A recent CSAVR Survey of all State Rehabilitation Agencies found that with a Congressional appropriation of $2,500,000,000 million for FY 1992, an additional 501,372 people with disabilities will receive these vital rehabilitation services.
The Survey also shows that the States clearly have the ability to match, and effectively use, these valuable service monies.
The justification for higher funding levels stems from the purpose for which the money is spent--the prevention of an incalculable waste of human potential, a purpose on which no price tag can be placed.
Appropriating additional monies for Vocational
Over the decades, Vocational Rehabilitation has more than paid for itself by helping persons with disabilities increase their earning capacity; by freeing family members to work; and/or by decreasing the amount of welfare payments, health services, and social services they might need; as well as by assisting them to become taxpayers.
The Congressional Budget Office has stated that "a reduction of funds for rehabilitation... would generate increases in other parts of the federal and state budgets.
Funds appropriated for Vocational Rehabilitation are a sound investment of the Public's money.
OTHER PROGRAMS AUTHORIZED BY THE REHABILITATION ACT
The Rehabilitation Act is recognized as the most complete and wellbalanced piece of legislation in the human services field. In addition to the Basic State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program, the Act contains provisions for (1) an innovation and expansion program; (2) a training program; (3) a research program;
(4) a comprehensive services for independent living program; (5) a supported employment program; and, among others, (6) special projects and demonstration efforts.
The CSAVR strongly supports adequate funding for all Sections of the Act, and wholeheartedly joins with the recommendations provided this Subcommittee by other Organizations and Advocates.
Senator HARKIN. Elmer, thank you very much, especially for all of the effort you had to go through to get down here from Massachusetts. At least we had some nice weather for you down here. How long have you been commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission?
Mr. BARTELS. I have served in that position for 14 years, State director, and we have really done some wonderful things in the context of the Rehabilitation Act and then some State programs we have been able to build around the act, where the public program was the core and some State-funded programs became support to it. It shows how valuable the Rehabilitation Act could be as a public program nationally for implementing public policy in helping people with disabilities to live independently and go to work. But it is also a leadership program back in the States. We build things around it with State moneys.
Senator HARKIN. I keep pointing out as you probably heard the witness earlier kept talking about the bottom line, the bottom line is that while this may cost money to provide these different types of services, people become independent, you are a perfect example of it, you go out and get a job and work, be a taxpayer, take care of a family. I have seen it happen time and time again. A small
infusion of funds for these services enhance the quality of life for those with disabilities, for rehabilitation efforts.
And yet you say we are serving what? One out of twenty?
Senator HARKIN. One out of twenty who are eligible right now. Mr. BARTELS. We did a quick study in Massachusetts. We have about 200,000, 250,000 people of working age with disabilities. Each year we have about 20,000 referrals come to our agency. We serve about 32,000. We know that there are people out there to be served. We do not have the counselor power and the purchase of service power to buy services for the people that are there.
Senator HARKIN. A lot of times they get so discouraged. I know disabled people in Iowa and all over the country. A lot of times they go out, they get so discouraged. That is why the ADA is trying to open up the doors, trying to get early childhood intervention programs for those disabled early in life. After a while you get so discouraged in terms of transportation, communications, and discrimination at the job site, after a while you just tend to forget about it.
Mr. BARTELS. I think the leadership, Mr. Chairman, you provided within the Senate and in working with the administration in creating the Americans With Disabilities Act provides us some legal standing in that regard and the promise. The promise we got to deliver on.
We spend hundreds of billions of dollars in this country on dependency, in the Social Security program, the Medicaid program, Medicare program. If we could turn those dollars into investment programs in people with disabilities, I think we could reap the harvest of their potential.
We have done investing, for instance, in the savings and loan bail out. We have invested in the people who, in fact, provided their life savings into those institutions. In the war in the Persian Gulf, we invested in peace in our times and peace in the future. If we can do that with billions of dollars, we certainly can provide an investment for our people with disabilities in this country to live independently and go to work.
Senator HARKIN. You say we spend hundreds of billions every year on dependency programs?
Mr. BARTELS. We certainly do.
Senator HARKIN. Very little on independency programs.
Mr. BARTELS. In the Rehabilitation Act, we are asking for $2.5 billion when we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on dependency.
Senator HARKIN. I would like to get a listing of all those dependency programs, just sort of get a laundry list of dependency pro
Mr. BARTELS. Start with the Social Security program. It is important in terms of benefits to help people put bread and butter on the table, but we can also provide vocational rehabilitation services to people who are on Social Security benefits and AFDC benefits, general relief benefits in our States.
It is not just the Federal Government that is paying these billions of dollars on dependency, it is State governments through general relief, AFDC, mental health departments, mental retarda
tion departments. If we can have people working, they are healthier. They are happier. They are independent. They are paying taxes. They are useful citizens.
Senator HARKIN. You have given me something to think about. I appreciate that very much. You are a great example of what it means to persevere.
Mr. BARTELS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you again for the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Senator HARKIN. Thank you for being way in front of the curve for a long time. Thanks.
I look forward to working with you in the future on these programs.
Mr. BARTELS. I am here. So are the other State directors.
STATEMENT OF THERESA SCHEETZ, PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA
Senator HARKIN. Next is Theresa Scheetz, Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania representing the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Theresa, welcome to the subcommittee. Your statement will be made a part of the record.
Ms. SCHEETZ. Thank you very much, Chairman Harkin.
For over 25 years I have been a board member of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. I am also a past president of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Affiliates, the statewide organization.
I am submitting testimony today on behalf of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in place of its president Faye Wattleton, who was unable to be here.
It is an honor to testify before this subcommittee in support of title X.
Since 1970, as you know, title X has served as the mainstay of our national family planning effort. Title X is a program that works. It provides needed health care services. It prevents unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion. It effectively addresses teenage pregnancy. And title X is cost effective.
A study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute found that every public dollar spent to provide contraceptive services saves an average of $4.40 in taxpayer funds that otherwise would be allocated toward medical care, welfare, and other mandated social services. An overall total of $1.8 billion in savings annually.
Our State of Pennsylvania illustrates the need and value of federally supported family planning programs. In 1985 there were 16,350 pregnancies involving young women 17 years and younger. In 1987 Pennsylvania had 542,120 teenage and poor women, at risk for unintended pregnancy. In 1988 Pennsylvania had 11,417 low birthweight babies and 1,643 infant deaths. Yet, despite this need for family planning services and the accomplishments and cost savings of the title X program, title X funds for Pennsylvania have been cut over 11 percent over the course of the last decade. On top of this, Pennsylvania is one of the few States providing no funds for family planning. The critical complement to family planning services for preventing unintended pregnancies and thus reducing the need for abortion is improved contraceptives. Avail