New Bill Would Advance Equity & Independence for Millions of Americans With Disabilities
People with disabilities and older adults want to live in their own homes and communities, and they deserve that right just like everyone else. Today, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Chair of the Senate Aging Committee, Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) along with Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced a critical bill – developed with The Arc and other advocates – that will fundamentally change how these populations live full and inclusive lives. The Arc stands unwaveringly behind the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Access Act and urges Congress to pass this long overdue bill.
HCBS waivers were established under Medicaid in the early 1980s, and millions of people rely on it today for daily activities, such as dressing, bathing, meal preparation, taking medication, employment support, mobility assistance, and more. Yet HCBS has been chronically underfunded for years, resulting in a national shortage of direct care workers, years-long wait lists for access to services, and, ultimately, isolation that strips people with disabilities and older adults of their dignity.
“We know that everyone benefits when people with disabilities are a part of the fabric of their communities, not locked away in institutions or nursing homes,” said David Goldfarb, Director of Long-Term Supports and Services Policy at The Arc of the United States. “Yet this country has treated the independence of people with disabilities as an idea, not a right. One in four U.S. adults live with a disability. These are your neighbors, your relatives, your coworkers, your friends, and they deserve better. We applaud the bill’s sponsors, Senators Casey, Hassan, Brown, and Kaine, and Representative Dingell, for their commitment to helping people with disabilities live with dignity.”
The HCBS Access Act would:
- Make home and community-based services a mandatory Medicaid benefit and increase funding for these services;
- Provide grant funding for states to expand their capacity to meet the needs of people who prefer HCBS;
- Make steps to improve the stability, availability, and quality of direct care providers to help address the decades-long workforce shortage crisis;
- Provide states with resources so that caregiving workers—who are disproportionately women of color—have stable, quality jobs and a living wage;
- Provide training and support for family caregivers; and
- Create better evaluation measures to assess the quality of HCBS being provided.
To meet real-life people who are impacted by the inadequacies of HCBS, watch Susan’s story.
About The Arc of the United States: The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy, and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of nearly 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis. Visit www.thearc.org or follow us @TheArcUS to learn more. Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.