Advocacy Action Alert: Resolutions 99 and 11 on Universal Health Care and Integrated Lifestyle Improvement Plans for Individuals with Disabilities. (Legislative Update)

Article excerpt

Congress is beginning to realize the value of physical activity, especially for people with disabilities. Two resolutions ate being circulated throughout Congress having the intent of developing public policy regarding health promotion for people with disabilities. HR. Concurrent Resolution 99 (Universal Health Coverage by 2004) and S. Concurrent Resolution 11 (Integrate Lifestyle Improvement Programs) have been initiated in the House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively. In this Legislative Update, these two resolutions ate discussed and how readers can become involved in helping to move these two public policy issues into the forefront of attention and potentially through the legislative process.

Value of Physical Activity

Since the mid-1990s, several federal documents have reiterated the need for regular, moderate exercise for all people, and especially those with disabilities (Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity, 1996; Healthy People 2010, 2001). Regular physical activity can manage and prevent chronic disorders such as heart disease, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, and other conditions. In fact, participation in leisure physical activity is a major goal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity also prevents disability and secondary disabling conditions from occurring. Regular physical activity does not need to be strenuous; performing regular activities around the home can result in increased health and reduction of secondary health problems.

Defining Disability

A disability can be defined as a physical or mental impairment that results in significant limitations of a major life activity. This can include occupational skills, daily living tasks, and/or reductions in the ability to participate in leisure pursuits. Over 80% of disability is acquired as a result of diminished health status. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular impairments, etc., exacerbate pre-existing conditions and can be a result of limited physical activity. Once a disability is acquired, the typical trend is for continued diminished health as activity levels continue to be reduced. Without appropriate behavioral lifestyle changes, conditions can be exacerbated, resulting in further secondary health conditions.

Two Congressional Resolutions

Collectively, the intent of those two resolutions is to--

a) aid in ameliorating disabling conditions and prevent further disability through encouragement of a physically active lifestyle;

b) incorporate lifestyle improvements and increased leisure physical activity into national policy to reduce disabling conditions and prevent diminished health states leading to disability; and

c) increase health services to those who are of poor health, so the incidence of disabilities and the increase of people with disabilities acquiring secondary disabling conditions can be reduced.

Congressional resolutions are neither bills nor laws, but can be used to guide the development of public policy into eventual bills and laws. Resolutions are statements and beliefs made by legislators about public policy concerns. These two resolutions are used in making arguments in federal, state, and local forums for the value of physical activity on health. Resolutions can also be used to assist in guiding the development programs at state and local levels.

S. Concurrent Resolution 11

Senate Resolution 11 focuses upon integrating lifestyle improvement programs into national policy. At the time of this writing, Senate Resolution 11 is sponsored by Senator Feinstein (CA) and co-sponsored by Craig (ID), Bingaman (NM), Crapo (ID), Lugar (IN), Warner (VA), Dorgan (ND), Murray (WA), Biden (DE), Inhofe (OK), Ensign (NV), Fiengold (WI), and Levin (MI). It is a bipartisan resolution that is good for the future of eventual public policy statements. …