It was with deep disappointment that we read “Doctors say their offices not equipped for disabled” (Page A1, March 19). The article outlined a study that stated that 17 percent of doctors contacted in the Boston area refused to schedule appointments for callers posing as disabled patients in wheelchairs.
Even more disturbing was the response to this discrimination by Dr. Richard Aghababian, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “It is gratifying to note that the overwhelming majority of specialists could indeed accommodate the request,” he said. “Still, there may be circumstances where a patient request may not be able to be fulfilled, and we encourage those providers to make efforts to arrange for care.” We wonder whether the medical society response would be so muted if the fictional patient had been refused service because of skin color or sexual orientation.
More than 23 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, such a blasé response to discrimination on the basis of disability should not be tolerated. It is worth noting that any doctor who accepts federal money (Medicare and Medicaid) is barred from discriminating against people with disabilities.
We respectfully urge Aghababian and the medical society to strongly oppose discrimination against people with disabilities. We ask that they undertake a project to provide technical assistance to all of their members, and bring about accessibility in all doctors’ offices in cooperation with disability organizations throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.