February 22, 2006

Activists Celebrate Passage Of Federal "Money Follows The Person Act"

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

WASHINGTON, DC--Disability rights advocates are celebrating the recent passage of a bipartisan measure that will allow people currently housed in nursing homes and other institutions to take their Medicaid funding with them when they move into the community.

Under the "Money Follows the Person Act", 40 states will be chosen to participate in a five-year demonstration project which is expected to help thousands of people to live more independently. The legislation comes with $1.75 billion in federal funds, much of which will be used to help purchase community-based services during the first year the person lives in the community.

The initiative was first introduced three years ago in an effort to help states create a more even balance between institutional and community-based services under state-federal Medicaid program. Approximately two-thirds of Medicaid long-term care currently funding goes to nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities, while just one-third pays for community-based services.

The American Association of People with Disabilities and ADAPT are among the many groups that have lobbied for its passage and are now encouraging states to sign up for the project.

"Free, free at last! There is nothing to compare being locked up to being free" said ADAPT's James Templeton in a press release. "It's like being in jail, but in an institution you don't know if you will ever get out."

"I spent 30 years inside and then I didn't get better, I just got out. Now my life is my own."

A related bill, the Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act, or MiCASSA, would allow Medicaid recipients to choose community-based attendant services and supports over institutional services.

MiCASSA was introduced by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in 1997. While it has been reintroduced several times, MiCASSA has been opposed by the nursing home industry, and has not yet been brought for a full vote in Congress.

"Money Follows The Person" (ADAPT)

"Choices and Freedom Are Sweeter Than Candy!" (ADAPT)

"Advocates celebrate program for those with disabilities" (Austin American-Statesman)

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Posted on February 22, 2006