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Right Now, Individuals With Disabilities Who Might Need Help With Everyday Tasks Such as Eating, Dressing, Bathing, Maintaining Meds & More Are Not Given the Option to Live In the Setting of Their Choosing; Schumer Says This Denies People With Disabilities the Freedom to Live Independently

Schumer’s Bill, the Disability Integration Act of 2015, Rights This Wrong By Ensuring Services Are Provided to Any Individual Who is Found Eligible for Institutional Care to Receive Critical Services and Supports in the Setting of Their Choosing; Schumer Bill Addresses Longstanding Civil Rights Issue That Currently Denies Individuals with Disabilities This Basic Right & Helps Alleviate Financial, Emotional Burden Often Posed On Loved Ones

Schumer: Individuals With Disabilities Have the Basic Right to Live Independent, Fulfilling Lives

Standing at the Southern Tier Independence Center in Binghamton, NY, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on Congress to pass the Disability Integration Act. Schumer explained that this new legislation will help individuals with disabilities live more independently by providing necessary at-home and community-based services and supports. Specifically, the legislation ensures that any individual who is found eligible for institutional care must also be given the option to receive the same necessary services and supports at home, or in a setting of their choosing, that would have otherwise been provided in an institutional setting. Schumer explained that the legislation gives individuals with disabilities the option to live more independently, and in the comfort of their own home, rather than in an institutional facility away from their friends and family. Moreover, Schumer said that this legislation will help ease the financial burden of those who do not want to live in a facility and may be paying high out-of-pocket insurance costs for in-home services and supports. Schumer also said that the bill will help alleviate the emotional burden that family members are often faced with when taking care of their loved ones with disabilities who are not receiving the necessary services and supports. Schumer, the sponsor and author of this bill, said Congress promptly pass this bill, as it will help promote independent living among Americans with disabilities.

“Individuals with disabilities have the right to live independent, fulfilling lives amongst their families and friends – but right now, they are often denied the kind of at-home services and supports that then keep them in institutional settings, far from their loved ones and communities. We need to be doing everything in our power to make sure they have the resources needed to live and thrive in the comfort of their own homes,” said Schumer. “This legislation will finally give individuals with disabilities the option to receive these types of services at home, so that they can continue living life to the fullest in their own communities.”

The Disability Integration Act ensures that any individual with a disability who is found eligible for institutional care must be given the option to receive the necessary services that allow them to be more independent. If passed, this legislation would prohibit public entities and insurance providers that pay for long-term services and supports (LTSS) from using waiting lists, screening people out, capping services, under-paying workers for services or taking any other actions that would restrict the home- and community-based services provided to people with disabilities. The Disability Integration Actspecifically defines LTSS as the assistance provided to individuals with disabilities in accomplishing, acquiring the means or ability to accomplish, maintaining, or enhancing activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, health-related tasks or other related functions, tasks or activities. For example, LTSS programs might include help with eating, bathing, dressing, preparing food, managing medication and housekeeping.

In addition, Schumer explained that this is an incentive-based system. States, or public entities in the state, that comply with the objectives outlined in this bill within a certain time frame could see an increase in their federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) rate. The FMAP rate determines the federal government’s share of Medicaid expenditures for a state. Full compliance with this bill would result in a five percent increase in FMAP for the state.

Schumer said this legislation could drastically improve the lives of those who utilize services at facilities like the Southern Tier Independence Center (STIC) in the City of Binghamton. For over 30 years, STIC has been a leading community-based advocacy and service organization for adults and children with disabilities. Originally established by a staff of four, STIC now employs over 400 people – many with disabilities themselves – providing programs and resources for those with disabilities across the Southern Tier. STIC is a Center for Independent Living, one of the first of its kind in New York State when it was founded, and its mission is to shape a world where people with disabilities are empowered to live fully integrated lives in their communities. All of STIC's programs and services share a common theme: they all promote independence, inclusion, and community integration. Schumer said this legislation would help disabled individuals obtain independence, bolstering STIC's mission. Schumer said the center is a wonderful example of how basic civil rights for individuals with disabilities are upheld and fostered, as it is committed to the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to live to their fullest potential.

Schumer was joined by Mayor Richard David, City of Binghamton; Maria Dibble, Executive Director of Southern Tier Independence Center; Bruce Darling, President of the Center for Disability Rights, Inc.; and clients and employees of the Southern Tier Independence Center.

‎”We are excited to have Senator Schumer visiting STIC and we thank him for introducing and promoting the Disability Integration Act. The act is critical because it goes far beyond any existing law to allow people with all types of disabilities to live independently in their own homes and work in their communities,” said Maria Dibble, co-founder and Executive Director of the Southern Tier Independence Center.