Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Mid-South ADAPT confronts Corker
Today Mid-South ADAPT confronted Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker asking him to cosponsor the Disability Integration Act (S. 910). Standing on a chair in the Crave Coffee Shop in Arlington Tennessee, a Mid-South ADAPT member caught the Senator at a rare public meeting and requested the Senator support people with disabilities civil right to live in the community.
“Elderly Americans and people with disabilities demand choice in long-term care,” said the activist standing above the crowd on a chair. “Tennessee more than most states needs the Disability Integration Act to avoid expensive institutions and nursing homes.”
Corker spoke briefly at the coffee shop outside of Memphis and answered some questions from the crowd that packed the small venue. The Senator stopped promptly at 9:AM. Mid-South ADAPT handed Disability Integration Act information to Senator Corker and he said that he would look at the information.
The Disability Integration Act (DIA) is civil rights legislation, introduced by Senator Schumer to address the fundamental issue that people who need Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) are forced into institutions and losing their basic civil rights. The legislation (S. 910) builds on the 25 years of work that ADAPT has done to end the institutional bias and provide seniors and people with disabilities home and community-based services (HCBS) as an alternative to institutionalization. It is the next step in our national advocacy after securing the Community First Choice (CFC) option.
The legislation, when enacted, establishes new federal law - similar in structure to the ADA - that requires states and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to change their policies, provide community-based services first, and offer HCBS to people currently in institutions. DIA operates alongside CFC, but these two laws work very differently. CFC is an option which states can choose. Even though CFC provides money for states to support independent living, many states have not chosen CFC. DIA requires states and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to make real and meaningful changes that support the right of people with disabilities to live in freedom like every other American.
The proposed legislation establishes new federal law - structured like the ADA - that says “No public entity or LTSS insurance provider shall deny an individual with an LTSS disability who is eligible for institutional placement, or otherwise discriminate against that individual in the provision of, community-based long-term services and supports that enable the individual to live in the community and lead an independent life.”
DIA makes it illegal for a state and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to fail to provide HCBS by using waiting lists, screening people out, capping services, paying workers too little for services, or the other excuses that have been used to keep people with disabilities from living in freedom. DIA requires each state to offer community-based services and supports to any individual who is eligible to go into an institution. It also requires states to take active steps to make sure that there is enough affordable, accessible, integrated housing.
The legislation requires states and LTSS insurance providers to complete a self-evaluation to evaluate current services, policies, and practices that do not or may not meet the requirements of the Act and to make the necessary changes in services, policies, and practices required to comply with the law. Additionally, public entities are required to develop a transition plan using an extensive public participation process. Public entities that fail to comply with the law may face legal action for the Attorney General or may be sued directly. People who have been discriminated against may receive damages under the law.