Rights/LTSS: Disability Integration Act Reintroduced

On January 15, Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reintroduced the Disability Integration Act (H.R.555/S.117). The Disability Integration Act requires states to offer community-based options. Additionally, it requires states to address the need for affordable housing. ADAPT and other advocates held a briefing on the day of introduction.

Medicaid/LTSS: House Approves Three-Month MFP Extension

Last week, the House both passed the Improving Medicaid Programs and Opportunities for Eligible Beneficiaries (IMPROVE) Act (H.R.7217). This bill includes reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program for three months. MFP provides grants to states to transition people from institutions to community-based settings. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this program has helped over 63,000 people transition into the community and has saved Medicare and Medicaid almost $1 billion as of 2013. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP. Additionally, the bill extends Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections for Home and Community Based Services beneficiaries for three months. The spousal impoverishment protection allows the spouse of a Medicaid Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) beneficiary to maintain a modest amount of income and resources for food, rent, and medication.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the IMPROVE Act extended MFP for three years and that it had passed both chambers.

The Department of Justice and Texas Have Entered Into an Interim Olmstead Settlement Agreement

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state, and the state of Texas entered into an Interim Olmstead Settlement agreement concerning thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) living in nursing homes. Texas has agreed to identify people with I/DD living in nursing homes and inform them about community options. The state must assist those who wish to move and provide the necessary services and supports. Texas agreed to create a system to help keep people from transferring from the hospital directly to a nursing home. Six individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, The Arc of Texas and the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities filed a lawsuit in 2010 and DOJ intervened in 2012 due to Texas’ failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., and other laws which led to the unnecessary institutionalization of people with I/DD in nursing facilities. This interim agreement represents the first statewide Olmstead settlement on behalf of individuals with I/DD living in nursing facilities. Additional information, including briefs filed in the case and the interim agreement are on the ADA website.

Statement of Interest Filed in Case That Argues the Olmstead Decision Created a Right to Institutionalization

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a statement of interest in a case in Illinois in which the plaintiffs argue that the Olmstead decision created a right to institutionalization. The case was filed by guardians of individuals who reside in one of the state’s Developmental Centers. Illinois plans to close two of its centers and redirect the dollars to community-based services. In its brief, DOJ stated that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not confer a right to remain in any given institution and that courts have found that it does not violate federal law for states to close an institution.