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Americans with disabilities comprise one of the largest minority groups in the United States. According to the Disability Status: 2000 - Census 2000 Brief [1], approximately 20% of Americans have one or more diagnosed psycho-physical disability.¹ This percentage varies depending on how disabilities are defined. According to Census Brief 97-5:, "About 1 in 5 Americans have some kind of disability, and 1 in 10 have a severe disability."

Although Americans live in the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare, those with disabilities can generally find adequate levels of subsidized support from a variety of sources, generally at the regional level. While most rural areas — especially in the Great Plains region — have little or no government-organized medical support infrastructure for the permanently disabled indigent population, most major urban centers have socialized healthcare systems. One of the largest developed systems is the Harris County Mental Health and Retardation Authority (MHMRA) [2]. Started in 1992 as a spinoff of the local University of Texas Health Science Center, MHMRA proved to be a success as it focused on handling complex Medicare and Medicaid paperwork for patients, in a system which greatly cut down on administration costs and sped the approval process.

Americans with disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

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¹ According to the Disability Status: 2000 - Census 2000 Brief, "Census 2000 counted 49.7 million people with some type of long lasting condition or disability. They represented 19.3 percent of the 257.2 million people who were aged 5 and older in the civilian non-institutionalized population -- or nearly one person in five..."

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