Since our sojourn into the healthcare maze, we have found one piece of legislation that has given us a bit of hope that lights the way. You may have heard Keith and I refer to the Community Choice Act on a number of occasions. I thought it would be helpful to share the information here as well as give you a quick link you can use to tell your elected officials of the vital importance of this legislation if we want to be able to live indepenent lives to the best of our abilities. Keith may be the first person you know who personalizes this need, but I am quite sure he won't be the last.
For decades, people with disabilities, both old and young, have wanted alternatives to nursing homes and other institutions when they need long term services. Our long term care system has a heavy institutional bias. Every state that receives Medicaid MUST provide nursing home services, but community based services are optional. Sixty seven (67%) percent of Medicaid long term care dollars pay for institutional services, while the remaining thirty three (33%) must cover all the community based waivers, optional programs, etc.
Families are in crisis. When support services are needed there are no real choices in the community. Whether a child is born with a disability, an adult has a traumatic injury or a person becomes disabled through the aging process, they overwhelmingly wan t their attendant services provided in their own homes, not nursing homes or other large institutions. People with disabilities and their families will no longer tolerate being forced into selecting institutions. It's time for Real Choice.
The Community Choice Act provides an alternative and will fundamentally change our long term care system and the institutional bias that now exists. Building on the Money Follows the Person concept, the two million Americans currently residing in nursing homes and other institutions would have a choice. In addition, people would not be forced into institutions in order to get out on community services; once they are deemed eligible for the institutional services, people with disabilities and their families will be able to choose where and how they receive services. Instead of making a new entitlement, the Community Choice Act, makes the existing entitlement more flexible.
The Community Choice Act establishes a national program of community-based attendant services and supports for people with disabilities, regardless of age or disability. This bill would allow the dollars to follow the person, and allow eligible individuals, or their representatives, to choose where they would receive services and supports. Any individual who is entitled to nursing home or other institutional services will now be able to choose where and how these services are provided.