HURLEYVILLE – U.S. Senator Charles Schumer publicly introduced a new bill on Thursday at the Center for Discovery’s Maker’s Lab he says will allow people with medical disabilities to become more independent and stay in their own community.
The Disability Integration Act of 2015 – written and sponsored by Schumer in December – would improve long-term services for medically disabled people, Schumer said.
It allows for a disabled person to receive the same care at home – or in a setting of their choosing – that they would receive at a live-in facility. It would do so by prohibiting public entities and insurance companies from wait-listing people, capping their services or screening them out.
Schumer said states that comply with the bill could see a five percent increase in their Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, which determines federal Medicaid expenditures for each state.
Schumer said he isn’t against live-in facilities that provide care for the medically disabled.
“But there ought to be a choice,” Schumer said.
Schumer chose to unveil the bill at the Center for Discovery because he says it is a place that treats its 300 daily and residential children and adults with medical disabilities equally, and helps them become more independent.
One example is the recently opened Maker’s Lab, which is a think tank and invention center where projects are created for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Patrick Dollard, president and CEO of the Center, praised Schumer for the bill. He said it could pave a path for a variety of housing options for disabled people that could take them out of their homes and help them become even more independent.
“I think, overall, the idea is brilliant,” Dollard said.
Funding for the bill has not yet been figured out, Schumer said. But he pointed to the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 – which financially supplements insurance benefits for disabled people – that was funded by closing corporate loopholes.
“We will find the same amount of money here,” Schumer said.
The cost of care for disabled people could be reduced by helping people with disabilities become more independent, Dollard said.
“It forces people who provide services to anticipate people getting better,” Dollard said.