Senator Behind Independent Living Bill Defends Pelosi
The lawmaker who introduced legislation to give people with disabilities an opportunity to choose in-home services over nursing home care is speaking out in support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after disability advocates heckled the House leader Tuesday.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, praised Pelosi in a statement for her role in including the Community First Choice Option in recently passed health care reform legislation. The option allows states to receive increased federal matching funds to support community living if they agree to eliminate caps on the number of individuals who can live in the community.
“When I was in the trenches with her during the final push for health reform, Speaker Pelosi was standing by my side to ensure that the final bill contained this new Medicaid program, which became known as the Community First Choice Option,” Harkin said. “Those fighting for independent living have a true friend in Speaker Pelosi.”
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But the option included in health care reform doesn’t go far enough for 25 members of the self-advocacy group ADAPT who heckled Pelosi while she gave a speech Tuesday morning. Under the option, states could choose to participate in the community living plan, but the self-advocates want a mandate, as would be the case under a proposed bill known as the Community Choice Act.
Pelosi does support the act, her spokesman Brendan Daly says she told the demonstrators. But he acknowledges there are no immediate plans to take up the legislation.