January 22, 2020

Gillibrand, Portman Announce New, Bipartisan Legislation To Help Support People With Disabilities During Hospital Stays

The Ensuring Access to Direct Support Professionals Act Would Allow Patients to Maintain Their Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) During Short Hospital Stays; DSPs Are Critical For People with Disabilities And Older Adults, Helping Them Live Independently and Advocating For Their Needs

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today announced new, bipartisan legislation that would help support patients, particularly older adults and people with disabilities, by allowing them to maintain their direct support professional (DSP) during short hospital stays. DSPs are personal aids that support people in ways that promote independent living and community inclusion. Currently, Medicaid does not cover personal DSPs when a patient is admitted to the hospital, and the individual must be treated by other hospital staff who may be unfamiliar with the patient and not trained on their particular needs. Gillibrand and Portman’s legislation, the Ensuring Access to Direct Support Professionals Act, would change this provision by allowing Medicaid to cover DSPs during short-term hospital stays. This would help give patients, including people with disabilities, access to DSPs they know, helping them to navigate the hospital visit with full independence and leading to better health outcomes.

“Direct support professionals fill a vital role for older adults and people with disabilities, helping them live independent lives and enabling their full participation in the community,” said Senator Gillibrand. “When individuals enter the hospital without the support of their DSP, it can often lead to a slower and less ideal recovery. This bill will enable Medicaid to cover the cost of DSPs, and will ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the best care possible and that their rights are respected.”

“Elderly patients and those with disabilities rely heavily on their direct support professionals for care and independence,” said Senator Portman. “Being in a hospital is distressing on its own, and for these patients, hospitals can be especially confusing and upsetting. By ensuring that Medicaid covers DSP services while a patient is in the hospital, we can ensure our nation’s most vulnerable have the level of comfort and familiarity they need to respond better to treatment.”

“The Ensuring Access to Direct Support Professionals Act has immense potential to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are experiencing hospitalization, while simultaneously investing in the often-overlooked direct support workforce,” said Barbara Merrill, CEO, American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCHOR). “Moreover, ANCOR is grateful for the bipartisan leadership of Senators Rob Portman & Kirsten Gillibrand in introducing this important legislation.”

The full text of the legislation may be found here.