Too many people are forced to face the heartbreaking choice of having their disabled loved one placed in a care institution, or keeping them at home and facing considerable expenses not covered by insurance. And too often, the end result of these decisions is financial hardship, split families, and substantial losses for local communities. But all of that may change with the Disability Integration Act, new legislation that’s being sponsored by Charles Schumer, a Senator from New York.
What’s the Disability Integration Act?
In short, the Disability Integration Act would create a legal right for people receiving care in a nursing facility or similar institution to receive those services in their home. The bill is two pronged: iInsurance reform would require that anyone who is eligible for care in an institution also be eligible for that care in a setting of their choice. Equally i Importantly, state and local governments would be required to ensure that community-based services are in place to facilitate alternatives to institutional care.
The bill also dictates that states aren’t allowed to throw up cost caps, waiting lists, or otherwise prohibit eligibility. Care providers would be required to assess transportation barriers, and all the various parts of government would have 12 years to transition into providing full coverage for every disabled adult.
The Big Difference
What does that all mean? For the countless people facing personal or financial hardship, it could mean a great deal. By enabling access to at-home care and the community services necessary to support that care, people with disabilities can be allowed to lead more independent lives. Any disabled adult who has required institutional care can tell you this restoration of independence is no small matter, which is why many proponents of the bill have argued that access to home care is actually a civil rights issue.
Disabled adults want to keep living independent lives just like everyone else. They want to maintain friendships, enjoy hobbies, and spend time with their families, like the rest of us. With the Disability Integration Act, adults living with disabilities may be able to do just that.
State of the Bill
Unfortunately, the wheels of government can turn slowly. The Disability Integration Act is currently under review by the Senate’s committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Many advocates are already organizing marches or approaching their representatives to encourage support. If you’d like to show your own support for the Disability Integration Act, it’s easy to find contact information for your own representatives.
By building support, Schumer hopes to have the bill passed by 2018. For those paying large medical expenses to keep their family together, and those families split by the need for institutional care, this is welcome news. Adults with disabilities deserve the best care they can receive, and they deserve it without being forced to undergo institutionalization and all that comes with it.
What resources does your local community offer to disabled adults? What difference have you seen it make in the lives of others? We’d love it if you shared your stories with us in the comments below.