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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Ice Cream for Dinner: Support for Freedom of Choice and the Disability Integration Act

By Raquel Bernstein, NCIL Summer Policy Intern

As children, we dreamt about some day in the future, having ice cream for dinner or being able to play video games all night. Sadly, under current laws, having ice cream for dinner does not seem to be a realistic option. The law currently says that the government must use tax dollars to pay for institutions such as nursing homes – but is not required by law to pay for home or community-based services or care. At institutions, you are constantly monitored, therefore your freedom is kind of forgotten and ice cream for dinner is no longer an option due to every detail in your life being controlled. Under the current legislation, many people rely on institutionalization to receive the services they need, such as bathing and dressing. The Disability Integration Act (H.R. 2472 and S. 910) would require insurance companies to pay for these services in the community.

Ice CreamWhat would the Disability Integration Act do?

  • The insurance companies would be required to pay for personal care services throughout the day and could not refuse services or discriminate based on what a person needs.
  • Insurance companies would have to come up with a plan on how to pay for personal care services.
  • Governmental agencies and insurance companies would be required to inform people with disabilities about their options to receive services outside of institutionalization.
  • Because so many people with disabilities would be freed from institutionalization, the government would need to increase affordable and accessible options for living throughout the community.
  • The government would have a cheaper option than institutionalization because they could pay for fewer hours of home health care per day due to people living on their own.

As you can see, this act would allow people to have ice cream for dinner (although your doctor might not recommend it!). Services such as bathing, feeding, and dressing would be under the person’s control, not an institution’s.

How can you help pass the Disability Integration Act? Visit www.disabilityintegrationact.org to learn more, then call, write, and hound your Senators and Representatives to co-sponsor and help pass the DIA!

Comments

  1. Debora Davidson says:

    I just now received an email from the leaders of four national groups serving people with disabilities (including NCIL) saying that to vote for this legislation is to support a $57 million reduction in funds for programs serving people with disabilities. They urge contacting our reps to tell them to vote no on the bills you are saying to support. Be careful- there may not be any dinner at all if all of this funding is cut.

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