Sunday, September 14, 2014
ADAPT leads Rally at the Arkansas Capitol
By Tim Wheat
At the ADAPT rally, people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities spoke of their frustration in seeking community services in Arkansas that will allow adults to live in their own homes and apartments and allow children to remain with their families.
"Currently there is a nine-year waiting list for people with disabilities to move out of an institution and into their own community and the Community First Choice Option can change that," said Brenda Stinebuck, an organizer with Arkansas ADAPT. "Even though it makes fiscal and moral sense, CFCO has been under attack. Frankly, people are playing politics with our lives and our freedom; this has to stop!”
The ADAPT Rally was to show the support for Arkansas citizens with disabilities and the need for the state to take the Community First Choice Option. The Community First Choice Option is based on principles of federal legislation that was designed to end the institutional bias in Medicaid. There are currently 2,818 individuals on waiting lists for community services in Arkansas and over 18,000 people in Arkansas nursing facilities according to the CMS 2010 Third Quarter Report. In Arkansas 3,538 nursing facility residents indicated that they wanted to return to community living.
Arkansas officials have used very conservative assumptions to project the costs twelve years into the future and these projections show a net gain for the state’s budget, not a loss. Studies have demonstrated that states which rebalance their systems for providing long term services and supports will more effectively control these costs than those that rely on costly institutions.
When states cut Medicaid, they not only limit services but they cut the jobs of the people who are paid by the Medicaid funds to provide services, supports and basic healthcare to the state's citizens. The Community First Choice Option was developed by ADAPT and the disability community to create a financial incentive for states to rebalance their systems for providing long term services and supports toward the community and address the institutional bias in Medicaid.
Individuals with disabilities can wait for over nine years for services in Arkansas. Many will be forced into expensive segregated institutions. Disability rights advocates have effectively argued that the current, institutionally-biased system forces people into nursing facilities and other institutions, rather than letting the individual CHOOSE where and how they get their services.
ADAPT is in Little Rock to urge Arkansas to work with advocates and the disability community to implement real Medicaid reform that contains spending while it supports the independence and civil rights of people with disabilities. Institutions and Nursing homes have a preference built into the program; they have assured funding while alternatives to expensive facilities are optional federal Medicaid programs.