The 4th Annual Roll on Capitol Hill is just around the corner and we have big plans to honor this summer’s 25th anniversary of the ADA with our best event yet.
From June 7-10, advocates from all over the country will assemble in Washington, D.C., to educate our nation’s policymakers about the needs of the disability community and to fight for policy that helps achieve those ends.
Over the past three years at Roll on Capitol Hill, our advocacy has played a key role in advancing legislation that is improving the quality of life for people with disabilities now and in the future. A few of our accomplishments:
- Helped secure passage of the ABLE Act, which will help people with disabilities who became disabled under the age of 26 save money for health care costs and other needs.
- Helped secure inclusion of federal requirements to track pedestrian, bike and wheelchair user-related safety to support funding for sidewalks and curb cuts.
- Signed on 168 representatives and 22 senators in support of legislation to create separate recognition for complex rehab technology.
This year we are focused on three main policy areas: transportation, complex rehab technology (including access to related medical supplies and prescription drugs) and Medicaid. Whether you are attending this year’s ROCH or not, the following synopses should help you get up to speed on the issues and see what we are advocating for so you can join the fight.
People with disabilities, especially those living in rural areas, continue to lack access to transportation. Adults with disabilities are twice as likely as those without disabilities to have inadequate transportation (31 percent versus 13 percent). Inadequate access to transportation creates barriers to employment, contributing to high unemployment and poverty rates. Lack of accessible infrastructure and transit effectively bar many people with disabilities who do not own cars from connecting to transportation modes that many take for granted.
Ill-maintained and inaccessible infrastructure can also result in serious injury. Funding and authorization for all federal surface transportation programs, including safety programs and public transit, is at risk. Congress has an opportunity to pass a new surface transportation bill that could improve and fund public transit; ADA compliance (including accessible Amtrak stations and trains, and sidewalk and public rights-of-way maintenance); access to employment in transportation; and programs that ensure transportation equity for all.
What We’re Advocating For
- Support HR 199, Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Improvement Act. The bill includes funding for achieving compliance with the ADA, improving public transit, biking and pedestrian infrastructure.
- Support Safe Streets Act of 2015 (number to be assigned). The bill encourages communities to consider safety improvements for all users in transportation project planning.
- Pass a long-term surface transportation bill with adequate funding measures. Any bill should incentivize ensuring an accessible, affordable, reliable and safe transportation system for all; and equal access to employment in the transportation sector.
Complex Rehab Technology
Complex rehab technology refers to products and services, including medically-necessary, individually-configured manual and power wheelchair systems, adaptive seating systems, alternative positioning systems, and other mobility devices that require evaluation, fitting, design, adjustment and programming. CRT is designed to meet the specific and unique medical and functional needs of an individual with primary diagnoses resulting from a congenital disorder, progressive or degenerative neuromuscular disease, or from an injury or trauma.
Medicare currently does not have unique coverage for the more complex needs of individuals with disabilities and chronic medical conditions that require medically-necessary, individually-configured products and services. We believe the creation of a separate category for CRT will result in decreased Medicare expenditures by averting hospitalizations due to conditions such as severe pressure sores and blood clots. In the interest of quality healthcare and optimal functionality for individuals with disabilities and chronic medical conditions, recognition of a separate category for CRT is needed.
What We’re Advocating For
- H.R. 1516, Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act of 2015 (Senate bill is expected to be introduced the week of April 13). This will create separate recognition for complex rehab technology wheelchairs.
Medicaid provides critical health coverage to 10 million non-elderly individuals with disabilities and 4 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for supplemental coverage. Medicaid is often the only way these consumers can receive funding for long-term services and supports, including home and community based services, and access necessary medical equipment and devices.
Some policymakers are proposing that states instead receive set sums of money through block grants or per capita caps which may limit the amount of funds the federal government provides per person or per population (people with disabilities, seniors, children, adults) each year.
Many states are transitioning from Medicaid fee-for-service (providers are paid for each service) to managed care models with managed care organizations. MCOs direct and administer the funds for the care a consumer may need and may refer consumers to physicians or specialists within the MCO. MCOs may lack the experience or expertise to work with the consumer, or be able to ensure person-centered planning and individual choice that guarantees adequate levels of support and services.
What We’re Advocating For
- Ensure adequate funding for all Medicaid services.
- Oppose restructuring of Medicaid funding through block grants, also called State Flexibility Funds, or per capita caps.
- Support and expand state participation in Medicaid programs that increase funding for HCBS, such as the Community First Choice Option, Money Follows the Person, and the Balancing Incentive Program.
For more information on Roll On Capitol Hill, visit www.unitedspinal.org/events/roll-on-capitol-hill/