Home Health & Hospice

New legislation aims to expand homecare options for Americans with disabilities

Homecare Insider, June 30, 2014

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) recently introduced new legislation to broaden the scope of home- and community-based service options for Americans living with disabilities—a move that commemorates the 15th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling on the issue. 

According to a news release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), for which Harkin is Chairman, the proposed legislation, entitled the Community Integration Act, would:
 
  • Eliminate the nursing home bias in Medicaid by clearly allowing the provision of similar care or services in home- and community-based settings.
  • Prohibit states from making anyone ineligible for home- and community-based services due to a particular disability.
  • Require states that have found an individual to be eligible for nursing or institutional care to similarly find those same individuals to be eligible for care in home and community-based settings.
  • Set clear requirements for states regarding the provision of services in home- and community-based settings.
  • Require annual reporting by states about the number of individuals with disabilities in institutional settings and the number that have been transitioned to home- and community-based settings.

The proposal follows the HELP committee’s findings from last year that, despite the Olmstead v. L.C. ruling against the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions, more than 200,000 working-age Americans remain unfairly segregated in nursing homes.

“Fifteen years ago in Olmstead v. L.C., the Supreme Court held that under the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], individuals with disabilities have the right to choose to receive their services and support in home- and community-based settings, rather than only in a nursing home or other institutional setting,” Harkin stated in the HELP release. “But we have yet to fully realize this promise, and many individuals with disabilities—our family members and our friends—continue to reside in institutional settings against their wishes.”