Federal health officials are backing a major new effort to improve health care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are supporting a three-year initiative that will be run by The Arc that’s designed to address health disparities facing those with disabilities.
Specifically, the program known as HealthMeet will provide training for health care professionals on working with people who have special needs in addition to offering health screenings in local communities for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Representatives from The Arc say the new effort will also incorporate a public awareness campaign, an information and referral network and comprehensive data collection and analysis.
“This project has the potential to uncover eye-opening information about the health of the millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in this country,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.
The CDC has allocated an initial $1 million for the first year of the program. Officials at Berns’ group say they plan to work with a wide variety of local and national organizations to implement HealthMeet across the country.
Anecdotally, people with disabilities have long complained about problems obtaining appropriate health care, citing everything from inaccessible exam rooms to issues with doctors unaccustomed to meeting special needs.
As part of the 2010 health care reform act, the federal government committed to dramatically expand data collection about the experiences of people with disabilities at the doctor’s office while also upping standards to ensure proper accommodations are in place.