Senator Harkin Introduces Community Integration Act

Community Living imageSenator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee introduced the Community Integration Act (S. 2515) on the same day the committee held a roundtable hearing on “Moving Toward Greater Inclusion” as part of the activities commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Supreme Court Olmstead decision (watch a video of the hearing on the committee website). The bill would eliminate the institutional bias in Medicaid by requiring the option of home or community-based services (HCBS) for anyone who requires an “institutional level of care”. The bill is based on the findings of the HELP Committee’s July 2013 report: Separate and Unequal: States Fail to Fulfill the Community Living Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The bill not only ends the institutional bias in Medicaid, but addresses other barriers to community living like support for a high-quality direct support workforce and the lack of accessible, affordable housing.