NACDD is committed to maintaining the comprehensive health care reforms achieved in the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, P.L. 111-148, and Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act, P.L. 111-152). With the enactment of the ACA, we made significant progress towards accomplishing our nation’s goal of universal access to high-quality affordable health care for all people with disabilities. The ACA includes historic coverage expansions; nondiscrimination and health insurance reforms; strengthened prevention provisions; numerous enhancements to Medicare and Medicaid; and other provisions that significantly benefit people with disabilities. It is critical that the essential benefits package designed for the health care exchanges meet the needs of people with disabilities. Protecting the significant achievements of the ACA will continue to be our highest health care priority. In addition, our organizations will work to advance the policy agenda that was not addressed by the ACA or only partially addressed.
The pandemic has exacerbated inequities in access to health care and exposed life-threatening health disparities. The public health infrastructure is inadequate to collect data on race and ethnicity, disability status, and other critical issues. The pandemic has exposed gaps in health care coverage as the number of people who are uninsured rises and as hospitals created discriminatory crisis standards of care. Expanding access to and non-discrimination in health care is a priority for our organizations.
Only a small percentage of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals obtain information about serving people with IDD as part of their academic coursework and to an even lesser degree are exposed to this population during their internships, practicums, and residencies. A competent health care professional workforce is essential to reducing health disparities and improving quality of life for people with IDD. Knowledgeable, culturally competent, sensitive, and respectful health care providers have the ability to not only provide quality services but also, by providing holistic and preventive services, decrease health care spending by reducing hospitalization.