Viewpoint: Intellectually and developmentally disabled patients deserve better healthcare

Congress should pass a proposed bill to improve healthcare access for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, wrote Jo Ann Simons, president and CEO of Northeast Arc, an organization serving people with I/DD, in an op-ed for The Hill.

The Healthcare Extension and Accessibility for Developmentally Disabled and Underserved Population Act would officially designate Americans with I/DD, including those with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders, as a Medically Underserved Population. The designation would grant I/DD patients access to over 25 federally funded programs including health centers, loan repayment access and training programs.

CDC statistics demonstrate the importance of improving I/DD patients' access to quality care, Ms. Simons wrote. Those with I/DD are at a higher risk for several health concerns: They are four times more likely to suffer from heart disease and 30 percent more likely to be obese, for example. Yet there is no early intervention targeted specifically to this group, and people with I/DD are twice as likely as the general population to not receive care due to costs. 

Passing the HEADs UP bill is a way for Congress to finally take action and increase health resources for this underserved population, Ms. Simons wrote.

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