How the Affordable Care Act (health reform) will Benefit People with Disabilities

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Over the last year, everyone has been following health reform, whether we wanted to or not; and the final legislation will make some very significant changes to the way this country addresses health and health care services. Considering disability’s past history with the “medical model” and the increase in older adults with chronic health conditions and disabilities, I believe we will see a greater interest in how health reform, now referred to as the Affordable Care Act will impact people with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is looking to do just that. Tomorrow, Thursday, May 20, at 1:00 PM EST they will be hosting a WebChat to talk about how the Affordable Care Act will benefit people with disabilities, or those with loved ones affected by a disability. What makes this particularly useful is that this isn’t a lecture but an actual question and answer session. Henry Claypool, the Director of the Office of Disability at HHS, Jeffrey Crowley, Senior Advisor on Disability Policy at the White House and Meena Seshamani, Deputy Director in the Office of Health Reform at HHS will discuss and answer OUR questions.

Although I cannot say that know Meena Seshamani or Henry Claypool, I have met Jeff Crowley and have worked with some of his colleagues on AIDS related issues. My personal opinion is that he is a good guy and is working hard to ensure that disability issues remain a priority.

You can send your questions to healthreform@hhs.gov and they’ll try to answer them during the Chat. They’ll also take questions live from twitter using the handle @HHSGOV.

The website for the WebChat itself is www.hhs.gov/live

Let me put a caveat that I have not been able to ascertain the screen-reader accessibility of this site, but did send an inquiry to HHS asking if it is. Pretty important I would think considering this WebChat is targeted towards people with disabilities.

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