My chapter, Ohio Buckeye, of the National MS Society asked me to give a testimony on an Ohio House Bill 332 up for approval. The HB would provide up to $1,000 tax credit for modifications to an existing home to make it more accessible and “visitable.” And on a new or home being built, up to $2,500 tax credit. The NMSS is supporting the bill. Here is my testimony given January 2012 to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Thank you Chairman Beck and members of the House Ways and Means Committee for allowing me to come before you today to testify on HB 332.
My name is Elizabeth Thompson. I’m an MS activist and ambassador for the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.
I’ve had MS since I was 22 and I’m 60 now. I worked outside the home until 2004 when at 53 I went on Social Security Disability due to my MS fatigue and inability to walk any distance.
HB 332 would assist many people with disabilities and older Americans in making their homes more accessible and safer. As you all know, falls by this population are all too common. ER visits, surgeries and physical therapy typically follow. This increases the cost of healthcare and can limit people’s independence.
In the last six years, I’ve fallen more times than I can count. A fall down nine basement steps had the squad transporting me to ER with a broken arm and dislocated shoulder. Last August, the squad transported me again with a head injury requiring stitches.
In between those two falls, I broke both wrists, at different times, both requiring a visit to ER, surgery and physical therapy. The Ohio Buckeye Chapter generously provided home health care each time to assist me while my husband was at work.
In a personal effort to improve my safety and remain ambulatory, since 2004 I have purchased two walkers, a manual wheelchair and various canes. Insurance made it possible for me to have a power chair that is valuable inside and outside to maintain my safe mobility and independence.
Also, to improve accessibility of our home, my husband built a ramp into our home through the garage, steps with a handrail to our patio and added a second handrail on our basement steps. I’m thankful he has the ability to make these modifications or we would have had to hire someone to make these improvements.
While all these tools have helped considerably, our home was built in 1964. The hallways are 36” wide and doorways 30” wide. My power chair is 29” wide and 47” deep (front to back.) Riding my chair in our home is tight and making turns from the hallway into an interior door difficult. To make it possible, the door to the room I use as an office has been removed, yet it is still a challenge. Our bathrooms are still not accessible for using my power chair and very tight with my walker.
People with MS have various issues including visual, balance, numbness, fatigue and cognitive. Most of these can affect mobility. Similar problems often face older Americans.
I urge you to seriously consider the value of HB 332 to help many Ohioans live safer and have the ability to remain in their homes.
Thank you for your time and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.