United Spinal Association Praises Senator Charles Schumer's Commitment to Health Care Reform for People With Disabilities

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 General News
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Paul J. Tobin, president and

CEO of United Spinal Association (www.unitedspinal.org), recently presented New York State Senator Charles Schumer with a certificate of appreciation for his leadership in securing the inclusion of two critical provisions
in the Senate health care reform bill -- the Community First Choice (CFC) Option and the Community Living Assistance and Supports (CLASS) Act -- that will ensure people with disabilities get essential services and support in their homes rather than having to go into a nursing home.

The CFC Option gives states the choice of providing community-based services and supports through state Medicaid programs.  CFC enables states to provide a broader choice of services than under existing Medicaid state options. Services designed to meet each individual's unique needs, such as help with dressing, bathing and grocery shopping, often enable people with disabilities to be independent and become or remain employed.  To encourage states to adopt this option, the federal government will pick up more of the share of costs than it normally does in Medicaid.

The CLASS program creates a voluntary payroll deduction system so that people with disabilities can receive a cash benefit to pay for -- and choose -- assistive services after paying into the system for five years.  It allows people to stay employed and keep their Medicare or Medicaid benefits.  It also saves the federal government $2.5 billion in the first ten years alone.

Under CLASS, people can choose to spend the benefits on a broad range of things including accessible ramps for their homes, modification of vehicles, services to help with management of personal finances and daily living, purchase of assistive technology or equipment to pursue employment and recreational opportunities.

Senator Schumer said, "Seniors and people with disabilities should not have to choose between staying in their homes and receiving the care they need.  I was proud to lead the fight to include both the Community First Choice Option and the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program in the Senate's health care reform bill.  I will continue fighting so no one has to choose between their health and their home."

Paul Tobin stated, "United Spinal is grateful to have Senator Schumer as a dedicated ally in our fight to improve the lives of people with disabilities across the country through health care reform. These urgently needed provisions to the Senate bill will empower Americans struggling to live independently due to a disability or chronic condition and provide them valuable assistance in becoming more active participants in our society."

Schumer and United Spinal have both advocated for health insurers to provide the same coverage and charge the same premiums to people no matter what their disability or pre-existing conditions, prohibit annual and life-time caps on coverage and guarantee continued coverage after someone acquires a disability or serious condition.

About United Spinal Association

United Spinal is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization formed in 1946 by paralyzed veterans and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, ALS and post polio.  It has played a significant role in writing the Americans with Disabilities Act, made important contributions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.  Membership is free and is open to all individuals with spinal cord disorders.

Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.

Jim Weisman


Paul Tobin


SOURCE United Spinal Association

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