Policy Priorities


Right to Repair: Part 2
Last year, TDC and the disability community passed “Right to Repair: Part 1” legislation, which prohibited insurance companies and TennCare from requiring prior authorization before paying for the repair of manual and power wheelchairs. The legislation was meant to eliminate a time-consuming and burdensome hurdle to getting vital repairs addressed and resolved. 

This year, Right to Repair: Part 2 establishes a policy that permits wheelchair users to obtain necessary repairs from independent, non-authorized repair persons. Currently, wheelchair manufacturers require repairs be completed only by authorized repair persons employed by the company, leading to long and unnecessary wait times. Under this current policy, unauthorized repairs are often not covered by insurance plans and void the wheelchair’s warranty. 

This legislation outlines a list of common wheelchair repairs that could be safely and efficiently completed by independent repair persons, and prohibits wheelchair providers and manufacturers from voiding warranties. Further, it requires insurance plans to cover these repairs in the same way they would cover and reimburse for repairs completed by “authorized” repair persons. The legislation also provides coverage for preventative maintenance, potentially leading to fewer issues and requiring fewer in-time repairs.

This legislation would likely speed up the process of repair by returning agency to the consumer, allowing them to choose local repair persons and avoiding lengthy waits associated with “provider-authorized” repairs. Likewise, it ensures that repairs, including preventative maintenance, are fully covered by consumers’ insurance plans. 

Download our Right to Repair Part 2 One-Pager

TennCare for Working Individuals with Disabilities Act
Currently, access to and enrollment in TennCare waiver programs, including Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) and Long-Term Supports and Services (LTSS), is strictly limited by income and assets. In order to participate in the programs in 2024, individuals must not earn more than $2,829 per month and have no more than $2,000 in other assets. This significantly limits the types of employment a person with a disability can have and still continue to receive vital care and services related to their disability. 

The “TennCare for Working Individuals with Disabilities Act”, or “Pathways to TennCare”, would allow an individual to pay a premium based on their annual income to access Medicaid care and services. In this case, the bill would require the individual to be employed and pay 5% of their annual income to enroll. The bill also would protect other assets, such as retirement accounts and 401k’s from consideration under the asset limit. 

The current system presents Tennesseans with disabilities with an untenable choice: gainful employment or necessary health care. 46 other states currently have a program like this, and citizens with disabilities residing in those states do not have the same artificial and arbitrary ceiling on employment aspirations and obtainment. They can plan for retirement, they can pursue high-paying jobs and they can more fully participate in their communities. By establishing this program in Tennessee, we would remove an artificial barrier to inclusion and success that allows people with disabilities to pursue their dreams while maintaining access to vital supports and services that sustain their health and wellbeing. 

Download our TennCare for Working Individuals with Disabilities Act One-Pager


Paid Family Caregiving Resolution
Family members of Tennesseans with disabilities have long provided care for their loved ones with disabilities so that they may remain in the community and at home. In 2023, approximately 930,000 caregivers across the state provided 930 million hours of care. Those stats are reflective of the loving dedication of Tennesseans to their family, but also to the state’s inadequate provider networks and the complete lack of support provided to family caregivers. The 2023 AARP State Scorecard ranked Tennessee dead last in the country for the quality and amount of support provided to family caregivers.

In Tennessee, it is generally prohibited for family members of individuals with disabilities to be paid for the care they provide while living in the same home as their loved one. While payment for care is not a silver bullet to fixing the broken family caregiving support system in the state, it is a start. 

This resolution urges TennCare and the state to develop a comprehensive paid family caregiving program that would begin to ease some of the pressure of the state’s caregiving population. While it is possible that TennCare and the state takes the resolution seriously and begins to develop such a program, history has shown that this is unlikely. However, the passage of this resolution would signal to the state that should they should expect legislation directing them to act, and signal to our legislators that the state’s support of family caregivers is woefully inadequate. 

Download our Paid Family Caregiving Resolution One-Pager


Parking Placard Language
In the state’s application for Tennesseans with disabilities to request a disability placard for parking in designated spaces, the state uses the outdated and inappropriate language: “confined to a wheelchair”. This legislation would update that language to be more reflective of our modern parlance. 

We hope this type of legislation would continue to push the state to consider the disability population when providing services, including updating language and perception of residents with disabilities to better serve our population in the future.

Download our Parking Placard Language One-Pager


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