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Community Advocates Celebrate Passage Of "Equal Choice" Bill

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS--A new law will allow thousands of seniors and adults with disabilities in Massachusetts to choose supports to stay in their own homes rather than being forced into nursing homes.

On August 3, Governor Mitt Romney signed into law House Bill 5203, known as the "Equal Choice Bill". The bill received unanimous support in the House last month.

The law allows people who are eligible for long-term care services under the state's Medicaid program to have the choice of in-home supports, such as visiting nursing services, house cleaning, and home-delivered meals, instead of nursing facilities. For a person housed in a nursing home but who is eligible for community supports, Medicaid funds would follow that person to the community. Those who are referred to nursing homes would first be informed of their alternatives.

"This law says that people with disabilities are capable and worthy of participating in the full measure of community life," said Al Norman, Executive Director of Mass Home Care, which championed the measure.

Susan E. Temper, executive director of the community service agency Springwell, wrote in a letter to the Daily News Tribune: "Seniors and adults with disabilities want to be cared for at home as a first resort -- and the Equal Choice Bill will now give them the choice to live independently in the community."

Lawmakers who supported the measure said the state would save $134 million over the next five years because in-home supports costs about half as much as nursing homes.

House passes equal choice bill (Westwood Press)
Home care bill signed (Cape Cod Times)
Letter: Celebrate passage of Equal Choice Bill (Daily News Tribune)
Opinion: No care like home care (Melrose Free Press)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.

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