Sunday Jan 29, 2023

Brown, Colleagues Call For Gao Study Into The Barriers Americans With Disabilities Face Accessing Healthcare – Senator Sherrod Brown


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and four of their colleagues in sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting that the agency conduct a comprehensive, wide-ranging study into the persisting barriers that Americans with disabilities of all backgrounds experience in accessing healthcare, including access to medical treatment, services, equipment and more. Along with Brown and Duckworth, this letter was cosigned by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

“We write to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a study on barriers people with disabilities experience in accessing healthcare—including reproductive healthcare—in the United States,” the senators wrote in their letter. “Even though discrimination based on disability is prohibited by law, people with disabilities continue to face issues with accessibility when it comes to getting the healthcare they need, when they need it. The lack of accessible healthcare contributes to and exacerbates health disparities experienced by people with disabilities.”

From inaccessible facilities and medical equipment to a lack of communication through interpreters, transcriptions or accessible medical information, members of the disability community continue to be denied their rights despite having strong protections to access and receive equitable care under the law. The senators also note that the current data and studies regarding health disparities among the disability community contain significant gender and racial gaps that fail to fully capture the severity of this issue for all Americans living with a disability.

“It is imperative that we address these issues to achieve equitable care for all,” the Senators continued, calling on the GAO to specifically assess:

  1. What is known about the barriers to accessible, Federally funded healthcare facilities, providers and services for people with disabilities?
    1. If facilities are inaccessible, what steps have been taken to resolve the barriers to accessibility?
    2. What resources do federally funded facilities need to be physically accessible and provide accessible, equitable healthcare services for people with disabilities?
  1. To what extent do Federal agencies collect data regarding the accessibility to healthcare for people with disabilities, including demographic information, such as age, race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation?
    1. What data are available regarding the type of facilities or settings (e.g., hospitals, community health centers, telehealth) that provide care for people with disabilities?
  1. What Federal oversight efforts and technical assistance are conducted to support the application of Federal laws related to the accessibility of healthcare facilities, providers and services for people with disabilities?
  1. What is known about the prevalence of individuals with disabilities in the healthcare and allied health workforce, and how has it changed over time?
  1. What is known about the extent to which healthcare providers are trained (either in medical school, residency programs or as part of certification programs) to have knowledge of the health needs of people with disabilities, their legal obligations under the Federal nondiscrimination mandates, as well as to engage with, and provide healthcare and services to, people with disabilities in a culturally appropriate manner?
  1. What is known about the financial barriers that people with disabilities may experience and how such barriers impact their access to healthcare services?

The full text of the letter is available HERE and below:

Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of …….


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