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August 01, 2014

Home and Community-Based Services

The ABA applauded Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) this month for introducing legislation in June to help disabled individuals get the long-term care they need outside of institutions. S. 2515, the Community Integration Act of 2014, would amend the Social Security Act to require state Medicaid plans to offer certain disabled beneficiaries a choice to receive home and community-based services (HCBS) at the same quality level of institutionalized care. In an Aug. 1 letter to Harkin, Governmental Affairs Office Director Thomas M. Susman expressed the ABA’s support for the bill and said that access to HCBS should be “mandatory for those who would otherwise qualify for institutional long-term care.” He highlighted the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), which concluded that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, community–based services should be available when deemed appropriate by health care professionals, when desired by the individual, and when the request can be reasonably accommodated. By increasing the availability of HCBS care, this bill will “reduce unnecessary institutionalization and enable many individuals to live independently and attain full integration into their communities,” Susman wrote. He signaled the ABA’s continued support for such measures into the future. “We will continue the fight to remove the obstacles that currently exist for certain individuals to obtain home and community-based services,” he explained.

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