AAPM&R has been a longstanding supporter of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Your Academy has fought to ensure that people with disabilities have access to places of public accommodation, including restaurants, businesses, and other public venues. As you are likely aware, the United States Senate is considering whether to take up legislation recently passed by the House, H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. This bill would significantly and negatively impact the civil rights of people with disabilities and would impose additional requirements on people with disabilities that do not apply to those discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, national origin, etc.
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is leading a letter to her Senate colleagues asking Senate leadership NOT to take up H.R. 620 for consideration on the Senate floor. We ask you to please contact your Senator and urge them to join Senator Duckworth in opposing H.R. 620 by signing on to her Dear Colleague letter. Please take action and send a customizable email to your Senator today!
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As your constituent and one of the more than 9,000 physiatrists of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R), I write in opposition to H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, and ask that you please join your colleagues and sign on to Senator Tammy Duckworth's letter to Senate leadership opposing the bill and asking that it not be brought forward for Senate consideration.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians, also known as physiatrists, treat a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Physiatrists utilize cutting-edge as well as time-tested treatments to maximize function and quality of life, often for patients who have experienced a significant illness, accident, or disability. I, and my professional society, believe that H.R. 620 would significantly and negatively impact the rights of people with disabilities.
H.R. 620 would create major obstacles for people with disabilities to enforce their rights under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to access places of public accommodation and would impede their ability to engage in daily activities and participate in the mainstream of American society.
The most concerning portion of this proposed legislation, the "notice and cure" period, would require a person with a disability to send a detailed notification letter to a business or other public accommodation that it is out of compliance with the law, and allow a grace period before a person with a disability could file suit. This provision allows for the business or other public accommodation to report on how the situation will be fixed within 60 days, and allows another 60 days for the business to fix or make substantial progress toward rectification. These barriers to equal opportunity do not apply to individuals discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, national origin, etc.
While H.R. 620 was purportedly designed to prevent non-meritorious lawsuits based on noncompliance with Title III of the ADA, there are already protections in place to address frivolous lawsuits. The bill creates significant, negative consequences for people with disabilities 28 years after the ADA was enacted. This bill would be harmful to my patients and colleagues with disabilities.
As your constituent, I urge you to join Senator Duckworth and your colleagues in opposing H.R. 620. Please do so by signing on to her letter to that effect.