HAA: Home & Community Based Services Access Act
This proposed federal law, the Home and Community Based Services Access Act (the “HAA”) will fully fund all Community Based homes, and could lead to states closing all large ICFs (Intermediate Care Facilities) and state centers (public Assisted Living Facilities for people under the age of 55) that provide the services many of our family members need. It will also lead to eventual closure of state funded nursing homes for the elderly. Although many of the components of this bill will help streamline access to residential care for people with disabilities, this bill discriminates against those who are the most severely disabled and depend on the specialized care and service that can only be provided in a larger facility. It also discriminates against people who prefer to live in a structured, apartment or campus-style living arrangement, where they can have better access to social activities and other benefits of apartment assisted living. The right to choose a congregate living facility is available to every US citizen except people with disabilities under the age of 55.
Senators Hassan, Casey, and Brown, and Representative Dingell, circulated a draft bill early in 2021 called the Home and Community-Based Services Access Act (the “HAA”). A public comment period ended in April of 2021. The HAA is being portrayed as legislation that will help individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, the way it is drafted, it will have a devastating effect on the men and women with the most significant intellectual and behavioral disabilities. The bill would end any requirement that states provide the services of ICFs (Assisted Living Centers) for individuals with intellectual disabilities. It would also create a strong financial incentive for all states to close all ICF/IIDs, both state operated and private. 70,000 men and women across the country have chosen to live in ICF/IIDs because they have found that these settings best meet their needs and preferences. All of these men and women would be forced to leave their chosen homes. If this bill passes without revision, it will take away the choices many families have made for their loved ones care.
A-Team Minnesota is deeply concerned about this legislation because:
- There is already an extreme shortage of residential options for people with disabilities. Many people are forced to live independently when it is not safe or reasonable for them to do so. Thousands of people are already homeless or incarcerated.
- The aging parents and families of adult children with severe disabilities are left with few resources and support systems.
- The civil right to choose where a person prefers to live is being taken from individuals with disabilities and their legal guardians. The vast majority of people in the US live in congregate housing and it is a widely acceptable and desired option, especially for Seniors.
- Congregate Assisted Living options make the most financial sense, as well as provide a desirable option for many people with disabilities who need and want graduated levels of assistance, meal plans, medical care, social activities, transportation options, and numerous other advantages of Assisted Living.
- The language of the HAA bill repeatedly uses refers to congregate housing for the disabled as “Institutional” and isolating. Congregate housing is NOT isolating. The terminology is archaic and derogatory, attempting to frame Assisted Living as a negative, undesirable choice.
If you are interested, here is a link to the draft text of this proposed legislation:
Senator Tina Smith
(202) 224-5641 720 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 https://www.smith.senate.gov/share-your-opinion
Senator Amy Klobuchar
(202) 224-3244 425 Dirksen Office Building Washington DC 20510 https://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-amy
Contact Your Lawmakers!
The single most important thing you can do is let your lawmakers know how you feel and why the effects of these bills are personally important to you. EVERY VOICE COUNTS!
Hard copy letters and phone calls are particularly effective. Emails help too, but can sometimes get directed to the wrong category and you might receive a form letter in response that is unrelated to the issue.
Be sure to include your name, address, and contact information along with the name of your disabled loved one if you are contacting on someone else’s behalf. Lawmakers are elected to represent people in their own districts.
However, it is also helpful to send letters to committee members who are actively working on these bills, even if they are not in your district. Hard copy letters work best for this.
Not sure how to start? Click this box for to see a sample letter! https://ateamminnesota.com/sample-letter-to-lawmakers-and-agencies/
Click this box to learn more about the 14c Special Wage Provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act and why it is so important. https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/ee900f84-8601-4a4d-9440-ba4c325a0ac2/downloads/MNFAC%20Report%2019%20January%202021.pdf?ver=1611167472164