Bill Would Support Community Living for People with Disabilities

It is often easier for people with disabilities who need care to find a place in an institution than to receive at-home services that would allow them to remain with their families in their communities. A new bill sponsored by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer attempts to change that.

Under the bill, individuals with disabilities who are considered eligible for institutional care would be guaranteed the option to receive services at home or in another setting of their choice. The bill, called the Disability Integration Act, would dramatically change the status quo.

Current laws generally provide for institutional care, such as nursing homes and other facilities, for people who need help with eating, bathing, housekeeping, and other daily activities. Community-based services are less widely available and often have long waiting lists. Schumer’s bill would outlaw waiting lists and prohibit caps on services and low pay that limit access to community support services.

Schumer said he sponsored the bill because he believes that people with disabilities have the right to live independent lives with their families and friends. Under the current system, people are often forced to live in institutions far from their community support systems. He wants the government to do more to give people with disabilities resources to live and thrive in their own homes.

The proposal would apply to services provided by Medicaid and private long-term services and supports insurance. States would receive an increase in federal funding for Medicaid if they complied within a specific timeframe.

Disability rights advocates support the measure. They believe it would be a major step forward for people with disabilities because it would establish community living as a civil right protected by law.

Many people with disabilities would rather stay in their homes with their families than to live in nursing homes and other institutions. This bill would make it possible for more disabled individuals to receive the services they need and to remain close to their families and communities.

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