June 11, 2020
WASHINGTON – The National Council on Disability (NCD)—an independent federal agency that advises the President, Congress, and other federal agencies—applauds the recent announcement of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) regarding its Early Case Resolution (ECR) with the State of Connecticut following Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont’s issuance of an executive order that guarantees people with disabilities will have reasonable access to support people in short-term hospitals, outpatient clinics, and outpatient surgical facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states, including Connecticut, prudently announced non-visitation policies in efforts to restrict the spread of the virus. However, most of those rules were not accompanied by any exceptions or guidance that took into account the needs of patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, dementia, or other mental health care needs. Such individuals often require access to direct support professionals and other support persons in health care settings to relay patient history, translate body language, bridge communication divides, and diffuse anxiety.
“We applaud the ongoing leadership of HHS OCR on behalf of people with disabilities during this pandemic and are encouraged by the actions of Governor Lamont to remedy the discrimination these kinds of rules unintentionally create,” said NCD Chairman Neil Romano.
“It is NCD’s hope that other states and localities will take note and follow suit without the need for formal enforcement action.”