Saturday, November 9, 2013

With the 2014 Winter Paralympics set for March, Wikinews sought comment from U.S. Representative Jackie Speier, who serves California’s 14th congressional district about the event and how current U.S. policies impact people with disabilities. Elected to the U.S. House in 2008, she serves on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Armed Services Committee. For the first time ever, the Paralympics will be broadcast live in the U.S. on network television.

((Wikinews)) : Will “Obamacare” have a positive or negative impact on the lives of people with disabilities?

Jackie Speier: By-and-large the Affordable Care Act will have a significant and lasting beneficial impact on persons with disabilities […] Most importantly, pre-existing conditions will no longer prevent persons with disabilities from obtaining health insurance. Lifetime limits on medical expenses will be removed and preventive services will be free. All of these provisions of the law create health insurance that is highly supportive of good health outcomes for everyone, but in particular for those who have a disability.

((WN)) : Are there any Paralympic athletes or elite athletes with disabilities from your district that people should know more about?

Jackie Speier: There are currently two Paralympic athletes who train or live in my district that people will definitely hear more about in the coming years. One is a young woman named Allie Hyatt who trains in Judo with Willy Cahill, [whom] I have also trained with. Allie, who is visually impaired and just 15, has already won numerous awards and will participate in the Youth Olympic Games next year. She is sure to be a force in the Judo world for many, many years. Hyatt lives in San Francisco and Cahill is the founder and CEO of the Blind Judo Foundation.

Another great athlete is Mohamend Lahna who is training for the Rio Olympics in 2016 for the paratriathlon,” Speier continued. “He is from Morocco originally but lives now in San Mateo and trains daily at the College of San Mateo. He runs marathons with a prosthetic leg and has his sights set on winning several medals atworld and Olympic events in the future. Lahna has proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD), a birth defect that affects the hip and pelvis. He is married and has a 1-year-old child.

Wikinews also sought comment from other members of Congress, including John K. Delaney, Mike Honda, Kyrsten Sinema, Eric Swalwell, RaĂșl M. Grijalva and Ann Kirkpatrick but at publication time, had received no response.