Lawmakers Propose Wider Access To Community-Based Services
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing new federal legislation that would ensure people with disabilities have access to community-based services.
Under the bill known as the Disability Integration Act, people with disabilities who qualify for long-term services and supports would have the right to receive such assistance in the community.
Currently, Medicaid provides wide access to care in institutional or nursing facilities for people with disabilities while waivers for home and community-based services are available on a more limited basis. Many states have long waits for such waivers.
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The legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week would eliminate this so-called institutional bias.
“The passage of the ADA was a significant step forward in the fight for equal rights for Americans with disabilities, but more than 20 years later, there are still problems that need to be solved. The Disability Integration Act identifies challenges that still exist and provides comprehensive and effective solutions that will help these individuals fully participate in daily life,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who is sponsoring the measure.
Advocates said the legislation could be life changing for people with disabilities.
“The way services are set up now, … the only choice many disabled people have is whether to be a captive in an institution or go without services in the community. This bill fixes that,” said Bruce Darling, an organizer with the disability-rights group ADAPT.
A companion bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is up for consideration in the Senate.