People with disabilities may confront additional barriers to accessing health care. Barriers to enrolling in public health care programs like Medicaid, Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus include transportation issues, physical access issues, and failures on the part of local districts to provide alternative print formats and/or translation and interpreter services. Even after coverage is in place, people with disabilities often encounter barriers to accessing services in provider settings. These problems can occur both at the level of the insurer or managed care provider, as well as in the individual doctor's office and/or hospital setting.
There are several important legal tools available to advocates for persons with disabilities, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest - FACT SHEET - What Are My Rights to Accessible Health Care in New York City? (Updated July 2013)
The Empire Justice Center has compiled a list of materials and resources that explain the legal rights and protections available to persons with disabilities under both of these federal statutes, as well as other federal regulations and state law. See Empire Justice Center: Americans with DIsabilities Act Resources. At this link, you will find documents explaining the various titles of the Americans with Disabilities Act in general, as well as documents more specifically tailored to the rights of disabled patients in health care settings, such as Department of Justice guidance on Communicating with People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Situations, and a Department of Justice 1992 Memorandum on The Obligations of Doctors and Other Health Care Providers Under the ADA (attached to a Title III Technical Assistance letter).
The National Center for Law and Economic Justice and Maximus, Inc. have published an excellent short guide to the legal framework governing state agencies in providing access to people with disabilities: Modernizing Public Benefits Programs: What the Law Says State Agencies Must To to Serve People with Disabilities. (2010)
This article was authored by the Empire Justice Center.