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Commentary
January 7, 2009

The Americans With Disabilities ActShattered Aspirations and New Hope

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: ADA-Novo Nordisk Legal Advocacy Fellow, American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, Virginia (Ms Thomas) and O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, Washington, DC (Mr Gostin).

JAMA. 2009;301(1):95-97. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.912

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was a landmark civil rights law enacted in 1990. The act was critically important for enabling individuals with disabilities to access employment and thereby health care for a society in which health insurance is primarily employment-based. The ADA was designed to protect persons with disabilities from invidious discrimination and, when needed, offered reasonable accommodations and modifications to enable them to fully participate in society. The rights and futures of persons with disabilities, however, looked increasingly dim as the Supreme Court began to systematically exclude from protection those with serious diseases such as AIDS, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and mental illness.

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