ADAPT’s Disability Integration Act, which protects the right of people with disabilities to live in their own homes and not nursing homes, was introduced on Dec. 18 by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., as S. 2427.
“This is an all-inclusive bill that says if you have a right to long term supports and services in an institution, then you have that same right in the community,” says ADAPT activist Stephanie Woodward, who is also director of advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights, an advocacy organization in Rochester, N.Y.
The DIA, a civil rights bill structured on the ADA, requires public entities and insurance companies that provide long term supports to serve eligible people in the community. Waiting lists, capping services, under-paying workers or taking other actions that restrict access to community-based services would be illegal.
“When you’re forced to live in an institution and segregated from the community, your civil rights are being violated,” says ADAPT activist Jensen Carabello, who is also vice chairman of the Center for Disability Rights. “The DIA will ensure this doesn’t continue to happen to people with disabilities.”
ADAPT organizer Bruce Darling adds that unlike earlier attempts at similar legislation, the DIA does not depend upon Medicaid. “It’s about having the supports we need to not just live in the community but to lead full and independent lives,” says Darling, who is also CEO at the Center for Disability Rights. “The failure to provide that assistance would constitute a form of discrimination.
For more information on the Disability Integration Act, visit ADAPT.