Harkin Introduces Bill to Improve Medical Access for People with Disabilities

<ed.note>Accessibility is one of the realistic interoperability challenges ( along with federated dirty data and digitization of legacy paper records ) to which I have not seen much electronic medical record media attention paid — so I’ll pay it.</ed.note>
Legislation Also Creates New Wellness Grant Program and Improved Training Guidelines for Physicians

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today introduced legislation to establish accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment and create wellness grants to fund health programs that focus on the unique challenges faced by individuals with disabilities.

We must recognize the unique situation of individuals with disabilities and work to make certain they are not limited in their access to quality medical care, or in their opportunities for health and wellness, Harkin said. We want to set standards, ensure proper funding, and make certain that medical professionals receive the appropriate training so that they can provide the best quality care for all.

Harkins Promoting Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2006 also creates a National Advisory Committee on Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities. This board would set priorities, review grant proposals, make recommendations for funding, and evaluate the progress of the program.

In addition, the legislation requires medical and dental schools, along with their residency programs, to increase training to improve competency and clinical skills in providing care to patients with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities.

The wellness grant program established in the legislation would help fund programs for smoking cessation, weight control, nutrition and fitness that focus on the unique challenges faced by individuals with disabilities; preventative health screening programs; and athletic or sports programs that provide individual with disabilities an opportunity to increase their physical activity.

Harkin was the chief sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landmark legislation which provides equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for millions of Americans with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Contact: Maureen Knightly/Tom Reynolds
July 24, 2006