In July 2019, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a new resource entitled “Modernizing Health Care to Improve Physical Accessibility.” In this publication, CMS provides an inventory of resources that offer guidance on how to increase the physical accessibility of medical services as well as specific tools to assess health care providers’ accessibility for individuals with disabilities. CMS’s publication also includes an inventory of tips and training materials to support efforts to reduce barriers to care while improving quality of care.
According to the publication, adults with disabilities are almost twice as likely as those without disabilities to report that they have unmet health care needs due to problems with the accessibility of a doctor’s office or clinic. Along with barriers that prevent or make it difficult for people with disabilities to access the exterior and interior of public medical buildings, patients/clients with disabilities often experience barriers to care once they are in a provider’s office – – whether through lack of physically accessible diagnostic equipment (for example, scales and MRIs), waiting rooms, examination spaces, and restrooms.
Health centers in particular may be interested in this inventory of resources designed to increase access and remove barriers to care because health centers must ensure that their sites are accessible to their patient population in order to demonstrate compliance with Section 330 funding requirements. See for example Chapter 6 of HRSA’s Health Center Compliance Manual.
The publication was issued by CMS’s Office of Minority Health that is charged with disseminating information aimed at eliminating health disparities and improving the health of all minority populations including people disabilities. More resources maybe found on its website here.
If you have any questions regarding health center responsibilities in ensuring access for persons with disabilities, please contact Kathy Ghiladi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Webinar: If you missed it, FTLF hosted a webinar in Fall 2018 discussing health center obligations for ensuring access for persons with disabilities. Learn more or purchase the recording here.