Association of University Centers on Disabilities Applaud Senators Harkin and Smith for Introducing Legislation to Reform Institutional Bias in Medicaid

March 3, 2005

Kim E. Musheno
Director of Public Policy

SILVER SPRING, MD (March 3, 2005) - The Association of University Centers on Disabilities applaud Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) for introducing the bipartisan Money Follows the Person Act of 2005 today. The Money Follows the Person Act is an important measure that will assist thousands of Americans with disabilities to be more fully integrated and participating members of their communities by providing demonstration grants to states to help individuals transition from institutions to community settings. These proposals would also provide financial incentives for states to rebalance their long term care systems and provide more cost-effective choices between institutional and community options.

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 national long-term services policy should not favor institutions over home and community-based services. It should allow families and individuals real choice regarding where and how services should be delivered," said AUCD President Fred Palmer, MD.

One of the biggest obstacles to States supporting people in the community is the many one time costs of the original move, such as the cost of a case manager to help set up community-based services, the down-payment on an apartment, and the move itself, added George Jesien, AUCD's executive director. "This proposal will provide incentives to states to move people who want to move by providing the full amount of money for these one time costs. In doing so states will learn from the experience how community based care can be more cost-effective."

Authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, AUCD's University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, have been instrumental in providing systems change through research, education and training, advocacy, and the provision of quality services to and supports for people with disabilities in the community.