Senators at Hearing Support Coverage for Home Care for Disabled
Lawmakers from both parties at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday supported changing federal law to extend coverage to people with disabilities who prefer to receive care in their home rather than an institution, CongressDaily reports. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said that current Medicaid law, which requires states to pay for institutional care but does not mandate payment for community-based care, "trump[s]" the Americans with Disabilities Act, which urges people with disabilities to live independently. Harkin encouraged legislation that would require the federal government to provide those who move to the community from an institution with 100% of the amount that the government would have paid for care in an institution. Harkin also advocated for legislation that would require states to cover long-term care services to the same extent they cover institutional care, according to CongressDaily. HHS Medicaid Director Dennis Smith said the administration wants to establish savings accounts to "remove barriers to independence, community living and participation in the labor force -- by giving [people with disabilities] the opportunity to build savings for purchases that will increase their independence and productivity." Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R- Iowa) during the hearing called for action on the Family Opportunity Act (S 1012), which would enable families of disabled children to purchase Medicaid coverage regardless of increases in income. Despite "bipartisan agreement" on the issues, the fiscal year 2005 budget provides no new funding for any of the initiatives, according to CongressDaily (Rovner, CongressDaily, 4/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.