Visiting Microsoft, Gov. Gary Locke Signs Legislation Expanding Medicaid for People with Disabilities in Washington State

REDMOND, Wash., July 11, 2001 — Washington State Gov. Gary Locke today signed into law House Bill 2230, which will enable low- and moderate-income people with disabilities in the state of Washington to work without fear of losing their Medicaid benefits. Microsoft hosted the official signing at its corporate campus in Redmond.

Lockes office chose to conduct the signing at Microsoft corporate headquarters to honor the software company’s long-standing commitment to hiring people with disabilities and its dedication to making its software products broadly accessible.

Medicaid is a state and federally funded health-care program that serves about 700,000 low-income, aged and disabled residents of Washington State.

The legislation will implement the federal “Ticket to Work” program that allows people with disabilities to earn up to 450 percent of the federal poverty level and still retain Medicaid health coverage. Sponsored by state Rep. Eileen Cody of Seattle, the legislation enables people with disabilities to retain more money while purchasing Medicaid coverage for an amount based on a sliding income scale. The program will be administered by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services and will be available early next year.

“I’m gratified we’ve finally taken the handcuffs off disabled people who want the dignity of working and paying taxes without losing their Medicaid coverage,” Rep. Cody says. “The unemployment rate among the disabled hovers at 70 percent, not because most disabled folks can’t work, but because the system has been set up to punish them if they do.”

Gov. Locke lauded Microsofts commitment, saying, “Innovative corporations such as Microsoft recognize the value and importance of Americans with disabilities. Just as lawmakers sweep clear some of the bureaucratic obstacles, I hope that the business community steps up to emulate the Microsoft model of equal and fair employment. It’s the right thing to do, and it enriches and ennobles the lives of all Americans.”

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