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Monday, December 14, 2015

Let Illinois Know What Community Means To You, Accessibility and Disability Issues

The following information is posted as shared by Access Living (CIL in Chicago);

Dear Access Living friends and allies,
We have an important opportunity right now to let the State of Illinois know what a “community based” setting should be. Over the many years that Access Living has advocated for home and community based settings, we have seen different interpretations of what “community based” means, and often have found ourselves thinking, like Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Community: what is the federal definition? The federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) settings rule for Home and Community Based Services requires that all home and community-based settings meet certain qualifications, including:
• The setting is integrated in and supports full access to the greater community;
• Is selected by the individual from among setting options;
• Ensures individual rights of privacy, dignity and respect, and freedom from coercion and restraint;
• Optimizes autonomy and independence in making life choices; and
• Facilitates choice regarding services and who provides them.
The federal rule also contains restrictions that bar settings that have institution-like qualities from qualifying as community settings. See a fact sheet on the rule at this link.
Why is this important? Is there a bottom line? Yes, there is. Settings that qualify as “community based” will be eligible for funding that is not accessible to settings that are not “community based.” So while presumably discussion of this issue is about the right of people with disabilities to live in the most integrated settings, it is also, at a fundamental level, about money.
The State of Illinois has been working on a Statewide Transition Plan to implement the new federal rule. The State is asking that stakeholders submit comments on the rule no later than January 3, 2016. Submit comments by email to HFS.SWTransitionPlan@illinois.gov. Written comments should be mailed to:
Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
Attn:  Waiver Management
201 South Grand Avenue East, FL2
Springfield, IL 62763
Persons who are unable to access the Internet may request a hard copy of the revised Statewide Transition Plan by calling HFS at (217) 524-4148. 
You can find more common issues and model comments here and be sure to check out HCBSAdvocacy.org where you can find Illinois-specific documents, such as the draft of the Statewide Transition Plan, and many more resources!
Access Living recommends that Illinoisans contact the State to urge that the federal rule on the definition of community be upheld in order to ensure that people with disabilities can be protected from unnecessary segregation and institutionalization to the maximum extent possible.

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