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Advocates for disability rights call for preservation of critical ACA compontents

Mar 22, 2017

Advocates from the Center for Disability Rights and other organizations are calling on local Republican congressional members to preserve critical components of the Affordable Care Act that would affect disabled populations.

Damita Peace works with the Regional Center for Independent Living and said most importantly, they’re asking for the continued right that people with disabilities can live and receive necessary care in their homes, rather than institutions.

"Somebody with basic needs who just needs help bathing or getting dressed or that kind of thing are stuck away, warehoused into institutions when they could be at home with a cheaper, healthier, community based home service."

The previous Affordable Care Act included the Community First Choice Option, which activists say is the only Medicaid program aimed at ensuring that people with disabilities can live in the community they choose. New York doesn't actually participate in this option, but advocates say it would be gone if the ACA is replaced. Peace said it's still important to fight for this program. 

"The people who have it right now will lose it and those of us who don’t have it will never get it."

Peace said the repeal of the Affordable Care Act could do away with a number of other programs helping people living with disabilities today, including Money Follows the Person.

That program was extended from the Bush administration and aims to increase the use of home and community-based services, transitioning those in long-term facilities into community settings.

Peace also said the home care industry as a whole isn’t being supported, with many attendants leaving for other jobs, and the ones who do stay struggling to make a livable wage.

Other issues the organizations have with the Republican health care proposals include making sure that people with pre-existing conditions are not discriminated against, as well as accessibility to diagnostic testing for those with disabilities.

UPDATE: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved New York State's Medicaid Plan Amendment to add the Community First Choice Option (CFCO) set of services. The State anticipates a statewide implementation date of April 1, 2017.

This story was produced by WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, focusing on disabilities and inclusion.