By Carol Barton:

The Disability Integration Act (S2427) was introduced in December 2015 by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The legislation addresses a fundamental issue that individuals who require Long Term Services and Support (LTSS) are forced into institutions and lose their basic civil rights. As the law now stands, if you are disabled and want to live in an institution, insurance and Medicaid will pay for those services. However, if you are among the millions who want to remain at home and receive home and community-based services (HCBS), Medicaid and insurance will not pay, thus robbing you of your basic civil right to choose how and where you will be cared for.

Consider the 30 year old who is severely injured in a car accident – how fair is it fair to commit him to a nursing home with patients who are generations older? Where is the commonality, the independence and the love he would receive if he had the choice to be in a home or community setting more skilled in caring for his emotional and physical needs? According to a story in Time Warner Cable News on 4/11/2016, individuals “with disabilities say living at home is oftentimes less expensive than in an institution and it also does wonders for their self-esteem. Some who have experienced both institutionalized living and being at home say there’s really no comparison.”

This legislation could change the current practice of mandating that those with disabilities must receive care in a nursing home in order to have that care paid for. Further, it would mandate that public entities and insurers:

  • Give individuals with  disabilities the right to choose between home and community-based or institutional care
  • Cannot discriminate against persons with disabilities when providing HCBS
  • Establish adequate payment structures for HCBS, and
  • Increase affordable and accessible housing options (applies only to public entities).

If you are among those who are affected by the current practice, you may want to contact your legislators and persuade them to support the bill when it reaches Congress.

We will continue to track the bill and keep you informed.

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