Disability rights group ADAPT has long been advocating for the needs of people with disabilities in institutional care to have access to home and community-based services. These services are much more desirable for people so they can have their independence and lead satisfying lives right among their own family and friends. A big step in a positive direction has been taken with the introduction of a new Bill in the Senate this January that would guarantee equal access to this much more desirable type of care.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced a Bill that would make it easier for people with disabilities to receive care at home and keep them out of more costly nursing homes and institutions. This bill is called the Disability Integration Act, and under it health insurance companies would be required to cover the cost of caring for people with disabilities in the comfort of their own homes.
The law currently provides financial care for people with daily living needs such as washing, dressing, eating, and other necessary activities. This care is insured only if they are in institutions or nursing facilities. However, the more desirable and less expensive option of home-based care is very difficult to achieve. There are often very long waiting lists, caps on services and other circumstances that would hinder a person’s access to home-based care. Under the new Bill, these blocks would be removed for people so they would be able to live and thrive in their own homes.
Senator Schumer was a co-sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which celebrated its 25th anniversary just last year. It seems in keeping with that anniversary that this bill should now come forward. Schumer called the current situation of rampant institutionalization a “crisis.” He also stated that, “We cannot go back to the days of warehousing people in institutional care models, nor can we expect that everyone will live with their parents forever.” The bill would apply to both Medicaid and private long-term insurance care. It stipulates that states would be eligible for an increase in the federal funding for their Medicaid programs if they comply within a certain time period.
At this time, there are still thousands of people trapped in institutions and movement on this Bill could serve as a beacon of light for their futures. Advocates at ADAPT said the Bill would be a huge step forward for all of us by finally making home and community based living what is should be – a civil right!