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September 01, 2014

Washington News Brief: Home and Community-Based Services

Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) introduced a bill Sept. 18 that would require Medicaid plans to give certain individuals with disabilities the right to receive long-term care in a home and community-based setting (HCBS) to reduce unnecessary institutionalization. Cartwright’s bill, H.R. 5547, is identical to S. 2515, a Senate bill introduced earlier this year by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), held that under the Americans with Disabilities Act individuals have the right to be placed in community settings rather than institutions when deemed appropriate by the state’s health care professionals, when desired by the individual, and when the request can be reasonably accommodated. “The ABA believes that Congress should continue to expand the availability of HCBS as a viable long-term option,” ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote in a Sept. 19 letter commending Cartwright for introducing the H.R. 5547. Susman said the bill, known as the Community Integration Act of 2014, would “help remove the barriers that currently stand in the way of certain individuals’ having the opportunity to receive care in the community setting – an ideal that was expressed in Olmstead,” he said.

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