Community Choice Act would Provide Equal Access to Community-Based Services for People with Disabilities and Older Americans

January 16, 2008

Kim E. Musheno
Director of Public Policy

Silver Spring, MD - The Association of University Center on Disabilities (AUCD) applauds Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL) for their long-standing support to correct the institutional bias in funding of long-term services and supports.

"This Community Choice Act will significantly build the capacity of local communities to provide the necessary services and supports for people with disabilities to live in their communities. This helps to make community living a viable option for many who previously have had no alternatives to institutional living," said AUCD President Bill Kiernan of the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

"AUCD has long advocated for reforming the institutional bias in the Medicaid program. Currently, over 75 percent of Medicaid long-term care dollars are spent on institutional services, leaving few dollars for community-based services. A long-term services policy should not favor institutions over home and community-based services. It should provide families and individuals with a real choice regarding where and how services should be delivered. That is what this legislation accomplishes," said George Jesien, Executive Director of AUCD.

The Community Choice Act of 2007 gives individuals who are eligible for nursing home services or other institutional care equal access to community-based services and supports. The legislation also provides enhanced federal matching funds to help states develop their long-term care infrastructure and grant funds to help states increase their ability to provide home and community-based services. Finally, this bill creates a demonstration project to evaluate service coordination and cost sharing approaches for those eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare services.

Recent research conducted by researchers at the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Personal Assistance Services suggests that the costs of enacting the Community Choice Act would be significantly lower than previous estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office nearly a decade ago. In addition, AUCD also supports a bill introduced in the House by Representatives Pallone (D-NJ) and Dingell (D-MI), the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, which would help address the growing needs of Americans for long-term services and supports through a new national program. The Community Choice Act and CLASS Act compliment each other in a fiscally sound package of reforms. Together they would help address the needs and desires of seniors and people with disabilities for community-based long-term services and supports.

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities, located in Silver Spring, MD, is a national, non-profit organization that promotes and supports the national network of interdisciplinary university centers advancing policy and practices through research, education and services for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities.

# # #