Kevin Charles

Healthcare Impact 2013: Understanding the Affordable Care Act – Part VI

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(Credit: Samantha Mesones/SXC)

There are a lot of changes to insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, not the least of which are the elements designed to help those with disabilities. Houstonian Lex Frieden started out planning to be an engineer, but after suffering a spinal cord injury, he ended up being an activist for the rights of the disabled.  And through that activism, he became known as a “chief architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The U-T Health Science Center professor says until now, the disabled just couldn’t get coverage,”Pre-existing health conditions were not covered by new policies.”   And Frieden says those who had insurance would sometimes lose their coverage, “If their chronic condition or their disability began to give them heatlh problems and they needed to go to the hospital or get medical treatment, the insurance companies would simply cancel their policies.”

But starting next year, the Affordable Care Act mandates coverage for the disabled. And Professor Frieden says the law also requires that medical equipment be accessible to the disabled. Case in point, exam tables that are too high for a person in a wheel chair to climb onto. In particular, he points out that disabled women have had a terrible time getting “well woman” exams.  “Imagine trying to get onto an exam table or into position for a mamogram if you live your life in a wheel chair.”

The new law includes many other protections for the disabled as well, including Medicaid coverage in every state for disabled people, and more services for those who need long term care at home and in the community.


News92FM News Anchor/Reporter JP Pritchard talks with Lex Frieden about health care changes for the disabled under the Affordable Care Act.  Professor Frieden is widely regarded as an architech of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Professor Frieden has live quite a remarkable life.

Lex Frieden, MA, LLD (hon.)

Professor of Health Informatics and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the UTHSC-H; Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and of Community and Family Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (Adjunct); Senior Vice President at Memorial Hermann|TIRR Hospital; Director, Independent Living Research Program (ILRU).

SEE MORE: View more of JP Pritchard’s series on the Affordable Care Act.

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