We are happy to echo the sentiments of ANCOR, our national association, to share the good news: ANCOR's "Hospital Bill", HR 5443, has become the law! This bill was included in the CARES Act (a COVID-19 relief bill) that officially passed both the House and Senate last Friday. It allows Intellectual Disability/Autism Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to accompany an individual while they're in the hospital.
PAR has been advocating for this bill, also called the Isaiah Baker Margie Harris-Austin Act, since May of 2019 when Shirley Walker, PAR President Emeritus and former ANCOR Board member, brought the issue to ANCOR's attention.
Margie Harris-Austin was a tireless advocate for her son Isaiah who has intellectual disability. She was a member of Governor's Advisory Committee (GAC) in Pennsylvania alongside former PAR President and CEO Shirley Walker. In May of 2019, Margie gave an impassioned speech to the GAC about the importance of having Direct Support Professionals accompany her son Isaiah, who was often hospitalized and at that time had been hospitalized for over 50 days. After her testimony, Margie suffered a fatal heart attack.
The Isaiah Baker and Margie Harris-Austin Act has been very dear to all of our hearts at PAR and we would like to thank ANCOR for jumping so quickly at the chance to advocate for this on a federal level. We would especially like to thank Representative Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) for co-sponsoring this bill in the US House of Representatives. We would also like to thank all of the advocates all over the country who were instrumental in getting this passed!
This victory could not come at a more important time as we mobilize our resources around COVID-19.
"I know that Margie is smiling down on us. Now people with disabilities in the hospital can receive services from DSPs who know and love them."
- Shirley Walker