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On behalf of Westchester Independent Living Center (WILC), I am writing to express our support for introduction of the Community Integration Act.
The objective of WILC is to promote and ensure, through systems change, the full integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of community life. Our center has successfully been utilizing the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion waiver to help individuals regain their independence through the assistance of outpatient and community support mechanisms. We strongly believe that individuals with disabilities and seniors must have the choice to live in their own community, near friends and family where they can get the physical, social and emotional support that they need.
We support the approach that is being taken with this legislation. Twenty-five years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals who need long term services and supports continue to be forced into nursing facilities and other institutions, not by their own choosing, but by policies that channel millions of tax dollars through Medicaid to warehouse them. And although one of the most elemental provisions of Title 11 under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is the “integration mandate,” ending unnecessary isolation and discrimination by allowing individuals a choice of settings where they will receive services, people with disabilities continue to be forced into profiteering institutions, such as nursing homes.
It is time that the ADA explicitly affirms the right of individuals with disabilities who receive the services and supports they need to be integrated into society and lead an independent life.
Many in our community felt that the Community First Choice Option, with the six percent additional FMAP, would result in states selecting the option and providing a real alternative to institutionalization. Unfortunately, only thr ee states (California, Oregon and Maryland) have implemented Community First Choice. Several other states, including New York and Texas, have indicated that they intend to implement CFC or have submitted a State Plan Amendment to CMS, but uptake of this option has been extremely limited. Some states – like Illinois –determined the state would actually generate excess long term revenue by implementing CFC, but still haven’t selected the option. That's why this bill is so important.
Please count on our support in securing Congressional support in getting this legislation passed and signed into law.
Westchester Independent Living Center, Inc.