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Letter to the Editor of TDPH

Following the March issue of the TDPH, the Wireless RERC received the following letter in response to the story on the New Legislation for Prescription Drug Labeling.

Dear Editor,

My name is Brian J. Coppola. I am a 47-year-old legally blind and hard of hearing man who has two [Associate’s] degrees. One as a Paralegal and the other in General Studies, graduated with these degrees from Northern Essex Community College Cum Laud. I also hold a [Bachelor’s] of Art in Political science from Merrimack College. I also worked for sometime in the field of assistive technology at Northern Essex Community college teaching the use of the Zoomtext software to visually impaired students.

I and the now resigned senator Steven A. Baddour of Methuen, Massachusetts, who was the state senator at the state house in Boston, Massachusetts has been working on legislation to mandate that health insurance companies cover the costs of devices that read aloud to blind people information contained on a medication bottle for about 10 years. The bill for the most part was put into study order, but during the 2007 legislative cycle, it was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Financial Services and then moved onto the Joint Committee on Health Financing. It is currently now s01855. I am calling on Massachusetts residents who are blind, even those who use PCA’s, visiting nurses or family members to help them with their medications to call the Massachusetts State House at 617-722-2000 and ask members of the legislature to get the bill moved out of committees and onto the floor so that Massachusetts can take the lead in what Edward Markey is trying to do. Making prescription bottles accessible in audible format, through cost analysis has already been proven to be cost effective and would save health insurance companies monies from unnecessary emergency room visits and the uses of visiting nurses or PCA’s to do this when the technology is available for the blind and deaf/blind is there for them to handle medicine on an independent manner. Without this, this could be argued to violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, HIPPA, and the Olmstead decision of the United States Supreme Court of 1999, which requires that disabled people to be allowed to live in the least restrictive environment possible.

There are other uses for PCA’s for the Blind, such as transportation, where there is no car developed yet that a blind person can drive. They also need to include a benefit for medical transportation in Medicare so that a blind person can go to a doctor no matter whether or not, they take Medicaid or up in Massachusetts, MassHealth. Blind need to go to doctors they are most comfortable with and not just those that take Medicaid. So in honor of Senator Steven A. Baddour of Massachusetts, please put this article into your newsletter so that the blind can stop relying on others for medicine regiment help and get the transportation that they [need] so desperately. Accessible medicine bottles make more sense than visiting nurses coming out to set medicine regiments up. Transportation makes more sense so that blind can be able to go to doctors and other places, such as employment and other places in the community on a level of independence in the same manner as those who do not have visual handicaps and or hearing handicaps.

I thank you in advance for your understanding of this matter. Have a nice Easter.

Sincerely Yours,

Brian J. Coppola


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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.