PRESS RELEASE: Disability Rights Maine Releases Report on Health Care Access for Mainers with Disabilities

CONTACT: Jennifer Battis

June 20, 2023

Disability Rights Maine Releases Report on Health Care Access for Mainers with Disabilities

AUGUSTA – Today, Disability Rights Maine (DRM) released a report entitled “I Don’t Get the Care I Need”: Equitable Access to Health Care for Mainers with Disabilities. This report follows a first of its kind assessment in Maine to obtain data about access to health care directly from people with disabilities.

DRM has long recognized the inequities faced by disabled people in accessing quality health care and then with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed utter disregard for the health care needs, and even the lives, of our community. “We knew it was time for us to try to create change by doing something in addition to taking on individual case after individual case,” said Kim Moody, DRM Executive Director.

Through this assessment, DRM heard from hundreds of individuals about their own experiences trying to access necessary health care. Many individuals highlighted situations where a lack of effective communication and mutual respect shaped poor experiences. As one respondent noted, “Providers make incorrect assumptions about my disability and my capabilities. They often treat me in an infantilizing way.” But when the opposite occurs, it can make a world of difference. “To be seen a whole person by a provider is a major advantage,” commented another participant.

The assessment identified five priority areas with corresponding recommendations for systemic change and public policy reform: 1. Data Collection; 2. Provider Education; 3. Structural and Systemic Barriers to Care; 4. Communication; 5. Physical Spaces.

“This report, the first of its kind in the state of Maine, provides crucial information needed to implement policy- and systems-level changes that will directly impact the lives of people with disabilities and their ability to access quality health care. We hope that statewide policymakers and health care organizations will join us in driving change to ensure that everyone in Maine has the same opportunities to attain good health and well-being,” stated DRM Health Equity Project Coordinator Jennifer Battis.

DRM is Maine’s Protection & Advocacy organization. Our mission is to advance justice and equality by enforcing rights and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities in Maine.