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Harkin introduces Bill to support Community-Based Services for Individuals with Disabilities

Legislation would allow individuals to receive care in their own homes and communities, rather than nursing homes

Washington, D.C. --- Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that he introduced the Money Follows the Person Act of 2005. The legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), would reimburse states for community based services for an individual currently living in a nursing home or similar facility.

"We have a Medicaid system in this country that is spending approximately two-thirds of its dollars on institutional care and approximately one-third on community services. This bill is an important step toward switching those numbers around," said Harkin. "It is shameful that our federal dollars are being spent to segregate people, not integrate them."

Under this legislation, the Medicaid money paid by states and the federal government would follow the person with a disability from an institution into the community. The Act would provide 100 percent federal reimbursement for the community services that an individual needs during the first year after they move out of a nursing home or similar facility. After that first year, the individual would remain in the community, and states would receive their regular Medicaid match for their services.

"This bill would allow people with disabilities to have choices that we all take for granted--to live with family and friends, not with strangers; to live in a neighborhood, not a nursing home or institution," Harkin said. "Federal Medicaid policy should reflect the consensus that Americans with disabilities should have an equal opportunity to contribute to our communities and participate in our society as full citizens."

http://harkin.senate.gov/news.cfm?id=232934 or visit http://thomas.loc.gov/ and enter the S.528 bill number for the text of the bill.