Fitzpatrick bill would improve services for people with intellectual, developmental disabilities

Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) would designate people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as a medically underserved population to ensure they receive improved healthcare services. 

“We must do more to ensure that all Americans have access to basic health care, especially those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who often have more complex medical needs,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation which seeks to remove the barriers to care that exist for those within the I/DD community so that they can lead healthy lives.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick on Nov. 23 cosponsored the Healthcare Extension and Accessibility for Developmentally Disabled and Underserved Population (HEADs Up) Act of 2021, H.R. 6075, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). 

If enacted, the bill would direct the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to make the designation, which would give Americans with I/DD access to new primary care and specialist services, incentivize new research, and authorize more favorable reimbursement rates for providers who treat them, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Fitzpatrick’s staff.

Specifically, the designation as a special medically underserved population would open up more than 25 government programs within the HRSA and other federal agencies for participation by the I/DD population, including federal funding for health centers and public health infrastructure; eligibility to apply for federal funding to develop and operate Community Health Centers; access to loan repayment and training programs in HRSA’s Workforce Development and Training Programs; and incentives for physicians, among others.

“There are clear cracks in America’s healthcare system, and one example is the way we treat those among us who require the most complex care,” Rep. Moulton said. “Citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve quality treatment just like everyone else, and America has an obligation to provide that.”

Tine Hansen-Turton, president and CEO of Woods Services in Langhorne, Pa., supports the bill, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.