Health Care Reform Misses Persons with Disabilities
Searcy, Larry, The Exceptional Parent
Currently, the Clinton health care reform proposal does not adequately address the needs of children or adults with disabilities. This omission has been admitted by Judy Feder, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in testimony before the Senate and pointed out by Dr. C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General, in remarks he recently made.
We must make our concerns known to the Congress as never before or face the likelihood of a national health care system that is less responsive to the needs of our children than our current system.
Your members of Congress must hear from you now about the need to assure that people with disabilities be included in any plan of national health care. Most importantly, they must understand that we are united, we have a common voice in Washington, and we are closely watching what our Congresspersons do to respond to our needs!
If your Congressional representatives do not hear from you, the chances of attaining reform that meets the needs of people with disabilities are slim to nonexistent. What to do:
* Meet with your members of Congress at their local offices.
Be assertive, insist on seeing your Congressperson or Senator.face-to-face.Failing that, insist on seeing the local Chief of Staff.
* Participate in town meetings, open forums, hearings, and similar events where your national politicians will be present.
* Work with other disability and consumer-oriented groups (e.g. family, children, women's, religious, professional, labor, and business organizations) to send a coordinated message to your elected politicians.
In addition to joint letters and meetings, consider staging public events like consumer hearings around your state that highlight the health needs of persons with disabilities. Whatever sort of events you plan, aim at gaining coverage in the local press.
* Contact your physician and related health professionals and solicit their support. Ask them to communicate with their professional organizations in support of services needed by children and adults with disabilities.
* Prepare personal stories about the importance of health care and long-term services reform. Tell your real-life horror stories about:
* Non-treatment of health conditions or about discrimination in the present health care system;
* Impoverishment or other severe financial circumstances stemming from costly health insurance premiums, high medical expenses or unfair existing insurance practices;
* Work disincentives resulting in continued unwanted dependency on public assistance. …