WASHINGTON -- President Clinton Saturday called the fiscal 2000 budget deal a "victory for the American people," highlighting a provision included in the package to help Americans with disabilities keep their health coverage when they return to work.
The White House and Republican-led Congress ended months of wrangling with a $385 billion compromise spending package. The House passed the bill on Thursday night, and the Senate passed the measure Friday to complete the $1.8 trillion fiscal 2000 budget."This week's budget agreement is truly a victory for the American people, a victory for children because it invests in world-class education that keeps us on the path to hiring 100,000 quality teachers to reduce class size," Clinton said in the prepared text of his weekly radio address to the nation.
He also called it a victory for families and neighborhoods because it includes resources to hire another 50,000 police officers.
Clinton said other key elements of the budget were agreements that free money to pay U.S. back dues to the United Nations, help pay for implementation of the peace accords in the Middle East and offer debt relief for poor countries.
He paid special attention to a portion of the budget deal that will help disabled people get back to work.
About 75 percent of Americans with severe disabilities who are ready and able to work are not working, Clinton said.
"One of the biggest reasons is they fear they'll lose their health insurance when they get a job," he said. "And there's a good reason for this fear."
"Under current law, many people with disabilities are eligible for Medicaid or Medicare coverage," he said. "But they can't go to work and keep that coverage. Yet when they do go to work they can't get private insurance because of their disability."
Under a provision in the budget bill, disabled Americans receiving benefits can return to work without losing their government health insurance through Medicare or Medicaid.
He said the bill will also help people in the early stages of diseases like AIDS, muscular dystrophy or diabetes.
Clinton said he hoped the government could continue work on other legislation rejected this time around. He mentioned gun safety legislation, Medicare reforms, hate crimes legislation and a raise in the minimum wage.
"To Congress I say: We've done a good job for the American people by working together. Let's keep working together, build on our progress and get the right things done for the American people," Clinton said.