Despite the government shutdown, people with disabilities are still raising their voices to save the wheelchair. Twenty-three years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, insurance companies are still able to deny reasonable requests for wheelchairs that are medically and functionally necessary for people with disabilities. Without the right wheelchair, it is difficult for people with disabilities to find and keep employment and maintain independence. In addition, healthcare costs can increase, as more assistance is required for daily activities and the risk for secondary complications goes up. Until insurance companies are forced to recognize the value of the wheelchair, these problems will persist. Healthcare is expensive, but in the current budget crisis, providing Americans with disabilities access to the right wheelchairs is the fiscally responsible choice.
On Wednesday, Ms. Wheelchair America 2014 Jennifer Adams made Chattanooga one of the stops on her U.S. tour. Jennifer Adams was born with partial limbs, yet she does not consider her struggles a burden, but instead a gift, for she has had the privilege to learn that beyond our limitations is fulfillment and life’s purpose. Her platform is Inclusion Revolution, an effort to spread the message of acceptance and awareness to businesses, schools and legislators in America and demonstrate to everyone that having a disability is cool. In an effort to do just that, Jennifer was joined by Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013 Bliss Welch, former Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2012 Jean-Marie Lawrence, and Ann Eubank of UsersFirst. The group tried to meet with Senator Bob Corker’s staff to discuss HR 942/S. 948, the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act of 2013. If passed, HR 942/S. 948 will increase access to good wheelchairs by separating the durable wheelchairs used everyday, from those commonly found in hospitals. Unfortunately, the four advocates were turned away as a result of the shut down, and must return at a future date to discuss ongoing efforts to pass this legislation.
To learn more about the Ms. Wheelchair America organization, please visit www.mswheelchairamerica.org. If you would like to lend your support for this legislation, go to www.usersfirst.org/forms/join.