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YOUR HEALTH: TAKE CHARGE!

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YOUR JOB & YOUR RIGHTS:
FIGHTING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON DIABETES IN THE WORKPLACE
Adapted from the American Diabetes Association


 

People with diabetes sometimes face discrimination in the workplace. The following information will help you understand your rights as a worker with diabetes and what you can do to make sure that you receive fair treatment.

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS

Several federal laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Congressional Accountability Act, prohibit discrimination in the workplace based upon disability.

In order to be protected by the federal anti-discrimination laws, a worker must show that he or she is a "qualified individual with a disability". In making this determination, a person with diabetes is viewed as he or she would be without the help of mitigating measures such as insulin. The worker also has to establish that he or she satisfies the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position, and who - if given reasonable accommodation - can perform the essential functions of that position.

There are a number of other federal and state laws that can be very helpful to workers with diabetes. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires most private employers with over 50 employees and most government employers to provide up to 12 weeks of leave per year because of the worker’s or an immediate family member’s, serious health condition. This leave can be taken in small blocks of time to deal with such things as short term problems caused by managing blood glucose levels or for doctor’s appointments.

YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The anti-discrimination laws prohibit an employer from taking any adverse employment action because of a person’s disability. This means that an employer cannot discriminate in hiring, firing, discipline, pay, promotion, job training, fringe benefits, or in any other term or condition of employment. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee for asserting his or her rights.

The anti-discrimination laws only provide protection from discrimination if the employer knows about the disability.

ACCOMMODATIONS

If requested, employers are required to make “reasonable accommodations”, unless the accommodation would cause an “undue hardship” on the employer because of significant difficulty or expense. The accommodations that people with diabetes need are usually easy and inexpensive, such as:

  • Breaks to check blood sugar levels, eat a snack, or go to the bathroom.
  • The ability to keep diabetes supplies and food nearby.
  • The opportunity to work a modified schedule or to work a standard shift as opposed to a swing shift.

ADDRESSING DISCRIMINATION

Gather Important Information

A good first step is to gather information about anti-discrimination laws as they apply to you. Contact the American Diabetes Association and the other resources, enlist assistance from your union, or consult an attorney. Keep all documents that relate to your claim, including letters from your employer, personnel policies, and write down everything that happens to you including names and dates.

Educate and Negotiate

Discrimination based on diabetes is often the result of ignorance. Problems can sometimes be resolved through education about diabetes, your medical needs and your abilities, and about the provisions of anti-discrimination laws.

Litigate

Sometimes it takes legal action to end discrimination. If the employer is a private company or state or local government, file a charge with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or with your state anti-discrimination agency. If the employer is the federal government, contact the internal Equal Employment Opportunity office of the agency.Act promptly because the time limits for taking action are often very short. If the agency does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction, you can file a lawsuit in federal or state court claiming discrimination on the basis of disability.

Legislate

The American Diabetes Association works to change laws and policies that are unfair to people with diabetes, including the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 that made it easier for a worker with diabetes to prove that he or she has a disability and is covered by the law.

We encourage you to read the entire document here.

HEALTH INFORMATION

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT HEALTH REFORM AND DIABETES
Adapted from the American Diabetes Association


 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is federal health care reform legislation that became law in March 2010. It includes many new tools in the fight to stop diabetes

I have diabetes. What does the new law mean for me?

The new law has many important provisions that will impact people with diabetes, including rules about pre-existing conditions, lifetime limits on benefits, drug costs, and programs aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes.

When the law is fully in effect, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage because a person has a pre-existing condition such as diabetes. Until then, the law sets up special plans, called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) for the specific purpose of providing health insurance coverage to people who otherwise could not get insurance under the old rules.

PCIP will be available until the provisions banning discrimination based on pre-existing conditions are fully implemented in 2014. (www.pcip.gov) Also, insurers will not be allowed to limit or drop your coverage to avoid paying your diabetes-related medical expenses. You will not be forced to pay more for your health insurance simply because you have diabetes.

What does the new law mean for children with diabetes?

The law prohibits insurers from excluding children under age 19 with diabetes from being covered under their parents’ insurance plans simply because of their diabetes. Also, young adults with diabetes – like all young adults – will be able to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26.

What does the new law mean for seniors with diabetes?

The law provides new benefits to Medicare participants. Seniors with diabetes who fall into the "donut hole" – the gap in the drug benefit under Medicare – will receive a $250 rebate in 2010 to help pay the full cost of their medications and premiums, and the donut hole will gradually be closed. In addition, Medicare participants will receive a free wellness visit to identify health risks such as diabetes or diabetes-related complications and to develop a prevention plan. These provisions apply to anyone who is eligible for Medicare, which also includes people who have a disability that prevents them from working.

How does the law affect low and moderate income people?

All adults and children in families with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level will be eligible for health insurance through the Medicaid program. Tax credits and other subsidies will be available to those whose income is below 400 percent of the poverty level.

Does the new law address prevention of diabetes?

Yes. The National Diabetes Prevention Program will be established to expand the reach of community-based programs with a proven track record of preventing type 2 diabetes. Also, the law establishes a $15 billion fund to address wellness and prevention and makes some preventative services free of charge.

When does the new law go into effect?

The law goes into effect in stages from 2010 to 2014. Some important dates to note:

July 2010:

  • Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIP) open
  • Medicare rebates begin arriving
  • Federal government web portal is available
September 2010, When the new plan year starts:
  • Insurers may not exclude children with diabetes from their parents' health plans
  • Young adults may stay on their parents' health plan until age 26
  • Insurers may not drop or limit your lifetime benefit coverage because of diabetes
  • Insurers will only be allowed to apply annual limits on coverage in accordance with federal standards
2011:
  • Steps towards closing the Medicare "donut hole"
2014:
  • Insurers can no longer refuse to sell or renew your policy or charge you a higher rate because of your diabetes.

How do I find information about insurance plans that are available to me?

The law requires that the federal government create a website where individuals and businesses can obtain information about the insurance coverage options that may be available to them in their state. The new Health Care Webportal can be found at www.healthcare.gov

We encourage you to read the entire document here.


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