Saturday, July 18, 2015

Time For A New Addition To The ADA

Take Action written in red, informal capital letters
American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, (ADAPT)

The Community Integration Act looks like a good candidate to be the next big legislative goal for the disability rights movement. It might even be the biggest deal since the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is appropriate since it’s being presented as a 6th section of the ADA itself. It would add much bigger teeth and operational specifics to the Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmsted decision, which was an interpretation of the ADA.

The Community Integration Act would make every state:
"... provide community-based services first, and offer home and community based services to people currently in institutions as a civil right. CIA requires states and insurance providers that pay for long-term services and supports to make real and meaningful changes that support the right of people with disabilities to live in freedom."
You can read all about it at the link above, but the premise is fairly simple. The Community Integration Act would strengthen the principle that people with disabilities who need “nursing home level” of support services have the right to get those at home. They wouldn't have to move into a nursing home or other “care facility” simply because they can’t get enough hours of home care … or because they don’t want their family to spend hours every day supplementing their care ... or because their state has decided not to fund more than X number of hours per day of home care ... or because a doctor or nurse decides they aren’t safe where they are for some reason. It would be as close as we are ever likely to get to an absolute right for every disabled person, no matter how severe their disability, to live in their own place, if that’s what they want. Disabled people would no longer live in institutions "because that’s all there is."

A new version of the bill hasn’t been introduced in Congress yet. The disability advocacy group ADAPT says that Sen. Chuck Schumer is interested in supporting the bill, but “needs a little push."

Click here to Take Action ... Urge Sen. Schumer to introduce the Community Integration Act before July 23, 2015.
I am sure there are a thousand details and questions to flesh out. How will the Community Integration Act apply to people with developmental disabilities? Would any additional funding be provided? How, exactly, would the affordable housing part of the bill work?

Whatever the answers to these and scores of other questions, I really think this is a great start at finally slaying dragon … putting and end all unwanted institutionalization. Let’s get started.