McNamara bill would require insurers to provide coverage for accessible residence modifications


STATE HOUSE — Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation requiring health insurers to provide coverage for accessibility modifications to homes in certain circumstances.

The bill (2023-H 5175) would require health insurance plans to provide coverage for accessible residence modifications when those modifications are determined to be medically necessary, but only after a physician makes a determination that the patient would have to move into a long-term care residential facility otherwise.

“As Rhode Island’s population ages, it’s important for us to do what we can to ease the burden of those who have shouldered the burden all their lives, and help to keep them in their homes,” said Representative McNamara. “From building our country to fighting our wars, senior citizens have made the investment in time, money and untiring devotion to their families, their employers and their country. These are people who are most likely to support small business. They pay taxes without utilizing services, such as public schools.”

The act is aimed at helping Rhode Island’s aging population stay safely in their homes longer rather than overburdening the state’s nursing homes, which costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year in Medicaid costs. With the state’s aging population rising each year, there is a distinct need for housing that is safe and adapted to the needs of the elderly. 

The House Committee on Health and Human Services recently heard testimony on the proposal, where the Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council testified in favor of the legislation.

“Time and again, it has been found that many — if not most — individuals with disabilities would prefer to stay at home in their community rather than move to a nursing home or other residential treatment facility,” wrote Robert Marshall, policy consultant for the council. “However, these Rhode Islanders find themselves with no other option than to accept a placement in a nursing home or other residential treatment setting because their home is not accessible and they do not have the financial means to make the necessary modifications.”