Poll Shows Public Support For Community Living
A Harris Interactive poll released Wednesday indicates that a majority of Americans support legislation that would allow people with disabilities to choose community-based care over nursing homes.
The poll commissioned by the self-advocacy group ADAPT and the Coalition for Community Integration, gauged opinions on the Community Choice Act, a bill proposed in Congress that would mandate that states offer people with disabilities the option to use Medicaid funding to pay for community-based rather than institutional care.
Findings from the poll indicate that 66 percent of Americans support the legislation without knowing what it would cost. When informed that the measure would likely add no more than $6 to a middle class taxpayer’s bill, 89 percent of respondents were supportive.
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Just 8 percent of those polled said they would not support the Community Choice Act.
Cost estimates for the measure range between $1.44 billion and $3.81 billion annually, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Aging & Social Policy. Organizers of the poll used these figures along with the average tax paid by middle income Americans as compared to the federal budget to determine that the proposed law would likely add $2.40 to $6.35 to the average taxpayer’s bill in 2010 dollars.
The poll was conducted in April after health care reform was signed into law.
Initially, advocates had hoped the Community Choice Act would be included in the health care reform legislation. But while the new law does give states an incentive to offer people the opportunity to live in the community, it falls short of the mandate in the Community Choice Act.
Under health care reform, a provision known as the Community First Choice Option allows states to receive increased federal matching funds if they agree to eliminate caps on the number of individuals who can live in the community.
Disability advocates say the option is a step in the right direction, but the mandate in the Community Choice Act is needed to ensure that the civil rights of individuals in all states are met.