Legislation and Policy
Access to quality, affordable health care is the foundation of an independent, productive life. For people with disabilities, who often have significant health care needs, health care access is crucial. AAPD supports quality physical and mental health care that is accessible, affordable, community-based, self-determined, and responsive to individual needs.
Many people with disabilities benefit from long-term care and support programs such as Medicaid and Social Security. These programs provide medical care, tools such as personal care aides, and other services. AAPD supports full funding of programs that benefit millions of Americans with disabilities. We advocate for an emphasis on community-based care, which provides access to family, employment, community, and full participation. AAPD also supports changes to long-term support programs that will incentivize participation in the work force.
AAPD monitors and advocates health care reform laws and regulations, health information technology policy and legislation, and federal and state funding proposals regarding long-term care.
The Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) as signed by President Obama made major changes to healthcare and insurance, and includes many provisions that will affect people with disabilities. The new law:
- Mandates health insurance for most individuals
- Provides greater choices for individuals with disabilities by eliminating insurance company discrimination based on medical history
- Provides more affordable choices and competition among providers through the creation of state-based insurance exchanges and tax credits to low-income individuals
- Provides new options for long-term supports and services
- Increases coverage for home-based and community services
- Expands coverage and options for people with disabilities under state Medicaid programs
- Limits the amount of money individuals may be required to pay through caps and the elimination of annual and lifetime benefit limits
- Protects individuals against excessive and arbitrary premium increases
- Provides more accessible and affordable options for preventive care and chronic disease
- Addresses health disparities through the collection of data on people with disabilities and providing training to medical professionals
With enactment of the law, reform is just beginning. AAPD continues to monitor progress and remain involved as implementing regulations are drafted, passed, and enacted, and will rigorously advocate for the needs of the disability community.
The Department of Health and Human Services has released final rules implementing the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination protections, clarifying and expanding on the obligations of health care providers to accommodate patients with disabilities.
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) opposes the legalization of assisted suicide. AAPD fully supports the self-determination, competency, and the ability of people with disabilities to make decisions regarding all aspects of their lives. However, mistakes by health care professionals, widespread misinformation, coercion and abuse limit the opportunity for people with disabilities to make informed and independent decisions. In addition, the legalization of assisted suicide devalues the lives of people with disabilities and would create a double standard in our society: it would mean providing suicide assistance to individuals with disabilities and health conditions, as opposed to the suicide prevention services that we provide to others.
The abuse and coercion that has occurred in places where assisted suicide is currently legal provides strong evidence that no safeguards can be effective in ensuring that people with disabilities can make an informed and independent choice. Rather than legalizing assisting people with disabilities and health conditions to end their lives, AAPD believes we should focus our efforts on ensuring that home and community based services and supports and access to quality, comprehensive, affordable health care are available to ensure that people have options that enable them to live independently and with dignity.