The Community Choice Act (CCA) was officially introduced in Congress on March 24th with a big kickoff amidst a packed Senate room disability-rights advocates, and 119 organizations phoning in on the event. Representative Danny Davis (D-Illinois) introduced CCA as H.R. 1670, while Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced a companion bill in the Senate as S.B. 683.
Under Title 19 of Medicaid, all sates are require to have nursing homes, but not home and community-based services for people with disabilities and senior citizens as a long-trerm care option. The Community Care Act would fix this current bias and reconfigure long-term care services. When passed, the CCA would allow people with disabilities, regardless of age or severity of disability, to receive the same services that they receive in a nursing home or an institution in their own homes.
“Let me thank you advocacy groups who’ve labored,” Congressman Davis told the packed Sente room. “It’s good to see you moving on, carrying on, and struggling on. I pledge to you that I’ll do everything in my power (that CCA gets pass). Like that song by Sam Cooke, ‘Change is gonna come.’”
Senator Harkin told the crowd how his nephew became paralyze in the military. Kelly, Harkin said, has been able to live in the community with support sevices but realizes that not every citizen with a disability is fortunate like Kelly. “this ought to be the right for every American citizen - people having a better life,” Harkin said.
“There will be no health care reform if people with disabilities are left behind,” Harkin said. “We’ve been fighting for this for a long time. Our time has come. People have the right to live in the least restrictive environment.”
Professor Mitch Leclant from the university of San Francisco also spoke to the crowd about the cost-effectiveness of the bill. He thwarted the anticipated high cost of the bill made by the Congressional Budget Office) (CBO). LeClant said that the CCA would only cost between 1.4 and 3.7 billion a year. He said the six states - Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon Washington, and California - have reduced cost while spending more on home and community-based services than on institutional care.
As of this writing, 51 Representatives and 15 Senators signed on as cosponsors of CCA. This is the most cosponsors this legislation had after only a week of its introduction!