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Henry Claypool

Panelist, "Caregiving and Social Insurance: Paid Family Leave and Long-Term Services," 29th Annual Policy Research Conference

Henry Claypool is the Policy Director for the Community Living Policy Center at the University of California, San Francisco.  He is also a founding Principal Deputy Administrator of the Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services.  Henry Claypool has been a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2006.  He will be a speaker on Panel 5, "Caregiving and Social Insurance: Paid Family Leave and Long-Term Services," at the Academy’s 29th annual policy conference this month in Washington, D.C.

“Henry is not just a leader and advocate.  He’s the kind of colleague who opens your eyes and makes you see the world differently—and think differently about policy problems you didn’t realize were there and the solutions you didn’t know you should be working to advance,” said Rebecca Vallas, Managing Director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress.  “Rather than starting from what might be possible, he reliably envisions the world as it should be and challenges himself and those around him to figure out how to get there."

Born in Fort Collins, Colorado, Henry Claypool grew up in the Denver metropolitan area.  Claypool spent five years of his childhood living in Mar Vista, California since his father moved the family to the area while he studied for a PhD at UCLA.  The family eventually moved back to Denver and Claypool attended the University of Colorado in Boulder as a young adult.  While in college, Henry Claypool sustained a spinal cord injury in a snow skiing accident and has been living with a disability for over thirty years.  Claypool received rental assistance after this accident through the Section 8 program while he lived and studied in Boulder, Colorado.  Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Supplemental Security Insurance are all programs that enabled him to complete his education.  Henry Claypool’s experience fosters his deep personal commitment to ensure that all Americans with disabilities can access the services and support for leading fulfilling and productive lives.  He has dedicated his life to a career of service to others.

Claypool was appointed to work as the Director of Disability Services at his alma mater – the University of Colorado in Boulder – 10 years after his accident.  He no longer received federal and state-level benefits at this time, but worked to ensure that these programs were readily available and properly implemented for University of Colorado students.  His alma mater wanted to improve institution-wide compliance with the American Disabilities Act [ADA].  Through his leadership, the university was made more accessible for students with disabilities and offered them more opportunities to connect with employers for career opportunities. Since the early to mid-1990’s, Claypool has been involved in creating and analyzing policies for people with disabilities.  He chaired the Colorado Governor’s Developmental Disabilities Council from 1993 to 1995.  This organization supported people with developmental disabilities trying to influence initiatives implemented by the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities both locally and nationally.  Claypool considers this as his first success at shaping national policies for Americans with disabilities.

When he moved to Washington, D.C., Claypool worked alongside Bob Williams – a Clinton appointee with disabilities – as a Senior Advisor to the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  Claypool helped streamline CMS programs and ensured that over 11 million Medicaid and Medicare recipients had their concerns heard by the agency and American policymakers.  He also helped Williams produce Olmstead guidelines to be implemented by all 50 states to provide Medicaid recipients with personal assistance in accordance with the case Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W. (1999); under this ruling, the Supreme Court established that no one should be forced to live in a nursing home as part of Medicaid coverage as was commonplace in the past.  Claypool dedicated his time at CMS to support this initiative because he believed the federal government should uphold common safeguards for disability assistance nationwide rather than have states create their own rules for managing federal grants in this area.

Claypool left CMS in order to establish Advancing Independence: Modernizing Medicare and Medicaid as a Co-Director.  In this role, he advocated for the government to change the homebound restrictions of Medicare.  People with severe disabilities were required to stay home and leave their residency on rare occasions or risk losing coverage.  Henry Claypool wanted people with disabilities to be able to leave their home and engage with their communities as they desired while still receiving Medicare and Medicaid.  At the time, CMS rules in the early 2000s emphasized that coverage for power wheelchairs was non-ambulatory, so people requesting coverage for this equipment was overwhelmingly denied.  There was also growing discussion by policymakers about cutting Medicare over concerns about fraud for power wheelchair payments.  While opposed to Medicare fraud, Claypool met before Congress in 2004 and called for the government to expand Medicare coverage for people in need of power wheelchairs since many recipients had unmet needs despite receiving this form of assistance.  Claypool still supports increased support of Medicare recipients with power wheelchairs to get the help and assistance they need through social insurance programs.

Henry Claypool’s career in social insurance has spanned many other organizations and leadership positions.  These positions include: Senior Advisor to the Associate Commissioner for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Employment Support Programs; Policy Director for Independence Care System; and Executive Vice President for the American Association of People with Disabilities.  Henry Claypool advised the Secretary of Health and Human Services on disability policy and various provisions of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.  In 2013 he was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Federal Commission on Long-Term Care.  Henry Claypool has also co-authored many publications on social insurance programs: Waiting for Medicare: Experiences of Unemployed People with Disabilities (2004); Health Insurance and Health Care Access Before and After SSDI Entry (2009); Medicare and Individuals Younger than Age 65 (2015); and Streamlining Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports: Key Policy Questions (2016).   From the community-based implementation of direct services to federal policy issues, Academy member Henry Claypool has used his personal experiences and professional career to serve others through social insurance programs.