Thursday, April 29, 2010

ADAPT pushes for enforcement of Olmstead Act; poll shows Americans want community choices in long-term care

From ADAPT's April 28 Action Report:

WASHINGTON D.C. -- ADAPT activists spent the day on Capitol Hill contacting lawmakers about the importance of the Community Choice Act (CCA, S 683 and HR 1670) and responding to fears of the legislation’s cost with new independent data that shows the CCA will cost the average taxpayer about six dollars. CCA will end the nationwide institutional bias in Medicaid funding and give Americans with disabilities the real supports and services they need to get out of expensive institutions and rejoin community life.

Following the afternoon with lawmakers, ADAPT activists had a promised question and answer session with Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Samuel R. Bagenstos. Speaking for the Department of Justice, Bagenstos said that ADAPT can expect to see the DOJ to bring cases and release consent decrees dealing with enforcement of Olmstead.

The demographics of our nation are changing, the population is aging and more people with disabilities need assistance with daily living tasks. Although community services have been shown to be less expensive on average than institutional services, and home and community services are clearly better liked by individuals, most public funding goes to facilities. In FY 2005 67% of our total $94.5 billion long term care Medicaid dollars ($63.3 billion) are spent on nursing homes and other institutional services, leaving only 33% ($31.2 billion) for all community services.

But the big news was that a Harris poll made following the health care reform debate shows that Americans are willing to pay taxes to have choice in long-term care. Analysis shows that CCA will annually cost middle class taxpayers an average of $6.07 for the highest cost scenario for CCA.

“For less than two cents a day,” said Bruce Darling holding two shining pennies up, “no American would ever have to go into a institution again.”

Release results of Harris Poll showing 89% of all Americans, and 94% of retirees support legislation like the Community Choice Act which would provide home and community-based supports and services instead of older and disabled Americans being forced by the current Medicaid law into nursing homes and other institutional settings that they do not desire.

The Harris Poll showed overwhelming support for CCA, across age groups and all regions of the country, with that support increasing to a high of 94% in the baby-boomer and retiree age group.

Even more striking was the fact that supporters said "yes, I would pay an extra $6 per year in taxes to fund this community-based option."

The $6 figure was calculated via three different methodologies, by the Coalition for Community Integration and two universities, using IRS numbers and the result was the same each time. In addition, the $6 represents the cost to middle-class tax-payers in the "worst-case" scenario.

Supporters of the ADAPT event were: Coalition for Community Integration, American Association for People with Disabilities, National Council on Independent Living, TASH and additional disability groups from the Justice for All Action Network.