I have a disability that prevents me from being as involved in disability issues as much as I would like – but I do try to stay on top of local issues.
Apparently, Governor Patrick will give the money normally spent for snow removal to help the MBTA’s finances, which will help all riders on the system. I’m happy to have learned this, but I also realize this will only help for about one year – so we need to watch any potential plans to change service in the future.
However, while I was looking at the MBTA website, I came across something else that concerns all clients who are physically disabled who take the MBTA’s door to door service, The Ride. As someone who depends on this service, I know how crucial it is for so many people. (I also know how difficult and frustrating it is to get through yet more red tape while in pain, and while having physical limitations).
The MBTA is changing the way they determine eligibility for services this year. Starting in June, all new applicants with physical disabilities will be required to have an in-person evaluation by a physical therapist employed by the MBTA. They will start re-evaluating their remaining clients in September.
Frankly, I am furious. The potential cost for the MBTA for this at a time when the service is cash-strapped is mind boggling, along with what I consider a violation of my own (and everyone who is disabled) personal rights. We have Federal HIPAA compliance laws in place, and am concerned this will be a violation. But I am also highly concerned about the cost to the MBTA, and the time and difficulty it will cause everyone who is disabled. There is nothing written (that I’ve been able to find) showing us what are the determining qualifications for these therapists they intend to hire.
While I have the highest respect for those in the field, I question whether the physical therapists they will employ are more qualified than a physician who, for instance, has studied at Harvard University, has published numerous papers and participated in extensive studies, and has years of experience at teaching hospitals such as MGH or Boston Medical Center. I realize not every physician has these extensive qualifications, but many have similar backgrounds, and all, of course, have to graduate medical school and are licensed before they can practice! What does this say about the level of trust the MBTA has in the physicians’ ability to evaluate and determine the extent of a person’s disability?
To me, this is an obviously attempt to disqualify as many clients as possible, and it is an insult to those of us who are disabled.
This is the link to the MBTA site where this change is mentioned: