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NCD applauds legislative, policy initiatives on ADA anniversary

Thursday, July 26, 2018

For Immediate Release

July 27, 2018

WASHINGTON–The National Council on Disability (NCD) – a nonpartisan, independent federal agency – applauds announcements of two groundbreaking measures on the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act being signed.

Bipartisan legislation was introduced by U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Gregg Harper of Mississippi called the Healthcare Extension and Accessibility for Developmentally disabled and Underserved Population Act, or the HEADs UP Act, of 2018. It would designate people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) as a medically underserved population under the Health Services and Resources Administration.

“The health disparities for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are well documented, as is the challenge that so many people with I/DD face in simply finding providers properly trained and willing to treat them,” said NCD Chairman Neil Romano. “This bill takes one more step towards helping us realize the promise of accessibility made with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

The bill would provide:

  • Access to loan repayment and training programs to those providing care to people with I/DD in HRSA’s Workforce Development and Training Programs including the national Health Service Corps Scholarships;
  • Incentives for providers to treat people with I/DD in the form of higher CMS reimbursement rates for provider services delivered in Health Professional Shortage Areas, a designation closely related to MUP;
  • Research preference at federal agencies, including the NIH, that studies medically underserved populations.

NCD helped to draft the bill and provided analysis concerning the challenges faced by people with I/DD in finding sufficient care.

Another important development impacts dental care in specific for people with disabilities.

The American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs (CEBJA) has issued notice that it agrees with NCD’s recommendations to revise the ADA Code of Professional Conduct to clearly state that dentists may not discriminate in their patient selection on the basis of disability, as is already the case regarding a patient’s race, creed, color, sex, or national origin, and the CEBJA will be forwarding that proposal to the ADA House of Delegates for a vote during their October meeting. Conditioned on that vote, the CEBJA has also agreed to revise their advisory opinion concerning patient selection to better reflect the rights of people with disabilities in obtaining equal access to dental care.

In November 2017, NCD issued a report titled, “Neglected for too Long: Dental Care for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.” In the brief, NCD recommended that people with I/DD be identified as a medically underserved population through federal legislation, and also called on the ADA to revise its Code of Professional Conduct to reflect the rights of patients with disabilities with respect to patient selection.

NCD commends Congressmen Moulton and Harper for introducing this important legislation, and the American Dental Association for taking steps to act on recommendations made in the furtherance of rights established in the Americans with Disabilities Act. NCD looks forward to working with these and other offices and agencies to see that people with disabilities have equal access to quality healthcare.


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