Access to HEALTH !

Last month, over 120 MassHealth beneficiaries, advocates, and people with disabilities attended the DAAHR forum on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in Boston. ACO’s work to provide coordinated care to patients by having a group of providers work together to bridge gaps between long-term services and supports, mental health, and primary care. The forum discussed the state’s process to set up ACO’s. Overall, the forum allowed stakeholders and MassHealth enrollees to share their thoughts on how to make ACO’s attentive to the needs of people with disabilities.

Paraphrases of comments from attendees are included below:

  • Educating physicians at large hospitals about various long-term care needs of people with disabilities  
  • Allowing DME (Durable Medical Equipment) to be personalized for individual needs. Accessible technology for autistic people should also be expanded
  • Creating supports for homeless individuals that are supportive and capable of serving people with brain injury or dementia.
  • Understanding reliable, dependable transportation as a vital component to health care access
  • Allowing medical facilities to expand their scope of accessibility by taking into consideration light and sound issues that can effect autistic people.
  • Upholding the ADA definition of effective communication by ensuring that patients fully understand what is being said.
  • Preserving patient choice in regards to providers and services. Full patient choice would allow mental health services to be voluntary
  • Ensuring privacy of mental health records
  • Allowing the lived experiences of people with disabilities to be honored as a teachable tool for medical professionals

Access to the NET

Massachusetts Senators Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and many others have recently sent an open letter to the Office of Management and Budget in order to urge the review of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) which had been issued over five years ago by the Department of Justice. The ANPRM “clarifies the obligations of entities covered by Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to make their websites, online systems, and other forms of information and communication technology (ICT) accessible”. The ADA has general regulations over making communication accessible, but there are no specific requirements for ICT.
Access to information and electronic communication technology has become a civil rights issue due to the lack of regulation on many web pages. The Department of Justice has formed an agreement with some institutions, such as state and local governments, public accommodations, and higher education, to make their online presence usable by individuals with disabilities. However, there are still many web pages and services that do not meet the international communication standards required to make the Internet accessible to everyone.
The Senators urge the Office of Management and Budget to review the ANPRM quickly and provide all individuals fair access to information, communication technology, and web services.