As Congress concluded its work for the year, disability advocates called for progress on a variety of priorities. Congress has now passed a package that includes some key victories, but leaves out others.
One of our greatest achievements is the expansion of the Money Follows the Person program. This helps people leave institutions and nursing homes and return to the community.
The Money Follows the Person (MFP) program provides grants to states to transition Medicaid participants from institutions to communities. MFP has helped 43 states and the District of Columbia improve access to home and community-based services (HCBS) by moving more than 107,000 elderly and disabled individuals from these facilities. . Medicaid requires states to provide care in nursing homes, but HCBS is optional. The MFP program is important because it encourages investment in HCBS by providing federal funding for transition services for individuals wishing to move out of nursing homes and other facilities. Congress has now extended it until 2027.
“This program will enable more people with disabilities to change their lives on their own terms. And it’s proof that people with disabilities and their families know – that The opportunity to live in a community with services to make it happen is a game changer. , says Peter Berns.
Other wins for the bill include:
- Create a pathway to ban the use of electroshock devices for behavior modification in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Brutal treatment is widely perceived as cruel, harmful and ineffective. Yet it is still used by one Massachusetts institution.
- Extends the requirement for states to apply Medicaid spousal poverty protection to HCBS through 2027. Spouses do not have to live in poverty for their partners to receive services in the community.
- Expanded eligibility for ABLE accounts. ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. Starting in 2026, the law will raise the age of onset of disability for accessing a ABLE account from her age of under 26 to her age of 46.
Congressional action or inaction on a particular issue creates unfinished business for The Arc and its allies to come together in 2023.
- There is no action to increase the SSI asset limit. Now, a person with SSI can only have $2,000 in assets, and a couple can only have $3,000.
- Congress is finalizing important eligibility and funding improvements related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This means the state could start excluding ineligible people from the program starting her April 1st.
“It is very disappointing that Congress has not taken the opportunity to lift people with disabilities out of poverty by only bringing the SSI asset limit from the 1980s into this century. Burns said.