Direct an existing federal entity or establish a new one to be responsible for leading an interagency effort to prevent adverse secondary consequences of health problems and chronic conditions, such as avoidable impairment and disability, job loss, and workforce withdrawal; then align relevant federal programs such that they support of this goal.
There is no federal entity whose mission explicitly includes this goal. Although several agencies promote the employment of people with long-term disabilities who are not working, the dynamics involved in retaining a job or returning to work following a health challenge are quite different and require a very different approach. While the pace of preparing for and entering the workforce is often slow, taking months or even years, an existing job can be lost in a matter of weeks or even a few days.
The federal government should designate an existing entity or establish a new one responsible for:
• Leading an interagency collaboration to increase the inclusion and retention of workers with disabilities (whether newly acquired or long-standing) in the public and private sector. This effort would include, among other activities, participating in all meetings in which related policy agendas, outcome metrics, and innovations in payment are being developed.
• Aligning the nation’s public health priorities with other federal programs, especially the services defined and paid for by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the nation’s largest public health care payer.
• Leading the research agenda (see recommendation 3) and a social marketing campaign to change beliefs and build support for action (see recommendation 4).
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