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$400 billion community-based services plan in jeopardy

Advocates are warning that the ambitious Biden administration plan to invest $400 billion to transform the nation’s home and community-based services and get people with disabilities off waiting lists is in jeopardy, according to Disability Scoop.

The proposal, part of President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan in March, aims to bring relief to many people with disabilities who are waiting to access services while bolstering the workforce of direct support professionals.

Last month, Democrats in Congress introduced a bill called the Better Care Better Jobs Act - intended to serve as the legislative framework for the home and community-based services plan. The legislation would offer states a 10-percentage point increase in the matching funds they receive from the federal government for home and community-based services if they meet certain requirements. It also includes incentives for states to strengthen the direct care workforce.

Now Senate Democrats are working to make good on the plan. They’re currently piecing together the details of a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which is expected to incorporate the Better Care Better Jobs Act.

But, according to disability advocates, with numerous competing priorities in the massive spending package, the rumors are that the amount allocated to Medicaid home and community-based services could be cut to $150 billion, less than half the $400 billion Biden called for.

Organizations including The Arc, the Autism Society and the National Down Syndrome Congress have been urging their members to contact lawmakers to support the funding level that was initially proposed. And, more than 400 disability service providers from across the country signed a letter to House and Senate leaders pushing for the full $400 billion to be included.

Kim Musheno, vice president of public policy at the Autism Society, said the extra funding for community-based services is long overdue and bold action is needed.

“The home and community-based infrastructure has been underfunded and neglected for too long,” she said. “Caregivers are exhausted. Waiting lists are so long that some parents are literally afraid to die for fear of what might happen to their loved ones.”

Source: Disability Scoop, Legal Daily World

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