22 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) many doctors’ offices are still not accessible for women with mobility, communication and sensory disabilities. Women with disabilities tend to experience a lack of accessible equipment in medical offices, may not be offered an interpreter or documents in Braille or large print and may not be able to find medical providers who are trained and willing to care for them. These are growing and unacceptable issues. ACHIEVA is providing leadership on improving access to healthcare for individuals with disabilities through education and advocacy. ACHIEVA’s Disability Healthcare Initiative has produced a Report for Legislators: “Access to Healthcare for Women & Girls with Disabilities” which has been hand-delivered to all of Pennsylvania’s legislators. This report details the problem, key strategies and solutions to create positive change statewide.
When access to healthcare is denied, not only are people at risk of serious health consequences but hospitals and medical providers are at risk of exposure to federal lawsuits. However, when women with disabilities are able to access routine healthcare, they have fewer hospitalizations and fewer emergency room visits, reducing overall costs for both public and private payers.
In the coming years more Pennsylvania women will need accessibility accommodations.
>• The Pennsylvania Department of Aging reports that, Pennsylvania’s population age 65 and over is expected to increase from 15% of the total population in 2010 to 19% in 2020 and 23% in 2030.
• The likelihood of disability for everyone goes up significantly as we age: less than 10% for people 15 years of age or younger, to almost 75% for people 80 or older
Women and girls with disabilities should be able to receive quality preventative care from their medical providers through accessible and respectful health care. ACHIEVA will continue to advocate and educate to bring awareness and change to this growing issue. For more information on ACHIEVA’s Disability Healthcare Initiative, log onto www.achieva.info.