3 Requests of Kaiser
As the premier healthcare provider in the U.S., I'd appreciate feedback from Kaiser re 3 areas of advocacy I have been trying to influence.
As background, after 29 years of working at Wells Fargo, I retired as a Sr. Vice President to start a disability-focused employment company that specializes in consulting on staffing and placement issues. Throughout my career, I've stayed active with the Disability Movement. I co-founded Computer Technologies Program (CTP) and founded the Association of Rehabilitation Programs in Computer Technologies (ARPCT). I was on the founding board of The World Institute on Disability and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). I was also co-chair of the President's Committee on Employment for People with Disabilities under Clinton's administration. PCEPD became the Office of Disability Employment Policy(ODEP) as a result of our work.
First, can Kaiser help determine the advisability and feasibility of our government ensuring long-term medical expenses for all workers? In my lifetime, I have been thrilled to see how well laws such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disability Act have positively affected the lives of people with disabilities. The physical environment is much more accessible. There are many more educational and social opportunities available. Employment, however, remains dismally unchanged. Despite millions of dollars spent annually trying to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, more than 70% of us are unemployed – the same as it was in the 1950's when I grew up. I believe a big factor for this lack of progress is the fear of losing services; many people with disabilities need to survive. Under current law, Medicare/Medicaid provides long-term medical expenses including personal assistant services, durable medical equipment, long term therapies, and maintenance drugs for people receiving SSI and/or SSDI. SSI/SSDI requires beneficiaries to be unemployed or earning meager wages. Recognizing that private insurers do not and cannot afford to provide these long-term medical expenses, many people with disabilities are forced to stay unemployed or underemployed. The Disability Community has been working diligently to change this. Having a highly regarded healthcare provider engage with us in this advocacy would undoubtedly be very helpful.
Secondly, can Kaiser consider becoming a personal assistant services/home healthcare provider? My wife and I have Cerebral Palsy. In our 34+ years of marriage, we've been able to be pretty independent, requiring only about 10 hrs/week of personal assistant services – a bit more when our son was a baby. I now need 12 to 15hrs/day of personal assistant services to help me with all my activities of daily living. Hiring and managing attendants can be daunting. There are small agencies that work hard to provide good services. Too often, however, they do not have the volume and therefore the ability required to get the funding and expertise they, their staff and their clients need. As the U.S. population ages, the need for good personal assistant services including Remote Assistance Services will increase dramatically. A large corporation, such as Kaiser, is needed to properly implement an effective and sustainable business and operational model for personal assistant services.
Third, can Kaiser partner with the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab in their development of an autonomous wheelchair? With all the loss of function,
I have faced in the last 7 years, losing my ability to drive my powered wheelchair independently has been the most frustrating. Here again, effective and sustainable business and operational model for developing and implementing assistive technology such as autonomous wheelchairs are needed. Kaiser is probably one of the few corporations that can do this.
I look forward to your questions and learning how these efforts can mutually benefit Kaiser and the Disability Community.