Is the ADA worthless if Americans can’t get a wheelchair that works in their lives?
Just last week we celebrated the 22nd anniversary of the ADA. This law mandates equal opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. These are basic rights that most Americans take for granted. One advocate was quoted as saying “The ADA secures our right to live in the world.” What an incredible achievement, yet there is no language in the law regarding access to wheelchairs.
We have the right, just like all Americans, to move about our lives and our communities, it’s the law. Yet, Medicare (and every other insurance company in the country) thinks a wheelchair is a wheelchair is a wheelchair. They think your wheelchair that is fitted for your body, your needs and your lifestyle is no different than an airport transport chair or the wheelchairs shown on late-night commercials.
It’s demoralizing when arbitrary insurance or government rules dictate who deserves the freedom of mobility and who doesn’t. It is time for us, people who use wheelchairs and people who love wheelchair users, to start making some of the rules.
Currently, Medicare does not have unique coverage for the more complex equipment (the wheelchair that is fitted for you).
We have to show and tell Washington that there is no “one-size-fits-all” wheelchair. That would be like saying everybody must use the same pair of glasses. Ridiculous right?
This is what we can do: there is a Bill called HR4378 that ensures that Americans will be able to get more complex equipment like custom power wheelchairs, ultra lightweight wheelchairs and seating systems under the Medicare program. It’s a new Bill and it needs our attention. Washington is like most places, the squeaky wheel (pun intended) gets the grease.
Urge your Representative to sign on to HR 4378 to ensure access to the critical equipment that you or your loved one needs.
Ann Eubank, LMSW, OTR/L, ATP
VP Community Initiatives
UsersFirst, a program of United Spinal Association