Pulling a few more things over from Facebook.
Oh my goodness what a day. First visit to Oregon State Capitol, first time (ever!) talking to state representatives and a policy aide to the governor in my role as advocate for intellectual and developmental disability supports. Having a voice in government: amazing experience.
Oregon’s State Legislature is getting some big stuff right this week. Like this:
HB 4101 would stop insurance companies from treating hearing aids as cosmetic or bilateral cochlear implants as experimental. The legislation would benefit Oregon children with hearing loss and their families by:
• Ongoing evaluations, fittings & equipment: Expanding the scope of what private insurers are required to cover for hearing services and technology.
• Help navigating complex insurance system: Requiring insurance companies to assign a case manager to each family when their child is diagnosed with permanent hearing loss to help them navigate the insurance system.
• Expand access to care with more doctors: To alleviate a shortage of pediatric audiologists, the bill would also require companies to contract with a specific number of pediatric audiologists to ensure kids have quick access to services.
This week, HB 4104 passed the House unanimously. It will now move to the Senate.
(source: Disability Rights Oregon)
So let’s chat a bit about HR 620, which passed in the US House of Representatives yesterday. Quoting Celeste Pewter: this bill “upends a key provision of the ADA by preventing people with disabilities from immediately going to court to enforce their right and to press for timely removal of the barrier that impedes access. It also removes any incentive for businesses to comply proactively with the ADA.”
And there’s the thing. Proponents of the bill paint a picture of people filing greedy or frivolous lawsuits. It’s really important to understand that ***the only thing that can be collected in ADA lawsuits are attorneys’ fees.*** You can’t win damages. If you win the lawsuit, the business or institution has to comply with federal law regarding accessibility.
The bill that passed yesterday makes it a lot harder to pursue the basic accessibility that is already required by federal law. It’s an ugly piece of work. I hope you’ll join me in imploring the Senate to vote no when their turn comes. You can reach your Senator via the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121.
I’m sitting here dumbfounded at the irony of a bill that introduces access barriers to a process intended to REMOVE ACCESS BARRIERS.