Thanks to Ted Tannenbaum of the Achievable Foundation for this guest blog entry.
When it comes to health care, most of us have an opinion about the current state of affairs. Our interaction with the healthcare system can either be an exploration into the marvels of modern medicine or result in sinking feelings of frustration over the lack of personal care, exploding bureaucracies and spiraling costs. Health care reform has been at the top of the nation’s agenda for the past few years. With one in every six dollars in the US spent on health care, not a day goes by that we can escape its influence. Questions and concerns abound for many people, but even more so our clients and their families. Will a doctor spend enough time with my loved one? Will they explain the treatment options in a clear and dignified way? Can we find a specialist who can work with us? Will it take months or longer to get an appointment?
People with developmental disabilities face additional barriers, such as a lack of specialists who will see them, hours-long waiting room times and providers who are ill-equipped to care for them. The health care system simply does not meet the needs and expectations of people with developmental disabilities. Linda, who both works as a consumer advocate and is a client at Westside Regional Center (WRC) in Los Angeles said, “Consumers can’t afford to pay for doctors, can’t pay for all the medicines, and can’t see dentists as fewer of them take Medi-Cal.”
Other adult clients at WRC also voiced their concerns about accessing quality healthcare. Robert lamented: “Even co-pays are going up, now sometimes $20 or $30 per visit, and many people can’t afford them.” Ted expressed the common perception of a lack of proper preventative care for this population: “I want to see a clinic that works to help with diabetes, how to treat it and prevent it too; it is something many clients here are dealing with.”
Not everyone realizes the magnitude of the issues that these and thousands of other clients face each day when trying to access healthcare providers to meet their needs Collaborations such as the one developing with the Achievable Foundation and Westside Regional Center are attempting to provide a place where health care needs can be addressed for our clients.
Whether it is a new community health center focusing on primary and specialty care or developing new data to better assess the health of medically under-served or vulnerable groups of people, it is vital that we continue to ask the right questions and seek the best answers that balance human needs with fiscal realities.