CONTACT: Lena Parsons, for Access Living

Access Living praises healthcare reform that gives people with disabilities option to stay in smaller communities

Chicago - Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago today praised Senator Baucus of Montana for including the Community First Choice Option in the Healthcare Reform legislation. If enacted, the Community First Choice Option would be an optional program that gives states an enhanced federal Medicaid match for providing attendant services and supports as an alternative to placement in a nursing facility or other institution.

"The elderly and disabled should not have to choose between staying in their home and receiving the care they need," said Schumer. "I am gratified that the Finance Committee agreed to include a provision that will take steps towards providing home care for those in need, and I will continue fighting until no one has to choose between their health and their home."

“We congratulate Senator Baucus for incorporating into Health Care Reform the Community First Choice Option,” said Rahnee Patrick, Director of Programs for Access Living. “The option to choose where to receive support services is one of the most critical issues for people with disabilities. In a time when states are strapped for human services funding, this option will give people with disabilities the choice to live in their own homes and communities while saving the taxpayers' money."

The Community First Option could have particular influence in Illinois, which institutionalizes a disproportionately large number of people with disabilities covered by Medicaid.

Access Living and other advocates around the country also recognized Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa for his efforts to give seniors and people with disabilities an alternative to placement in an institution or nursing facility. Harkin has been the lead sponsor for the Community Choice Act (S683/HR1670). This legislation would eliminate the institutional bias and served as the basis for the state option proposal. "For years, Senator Harkin has been a champion on this issue," said Mike Oxford, a member of ADAPT, a national, grass-roots disability rights organization.

For the specific language relating to the Community First Choice Option that is in the Senate Finance Committee Bill, visit

Chicago’s only center for independent living, Access Living is a cross-disability organization, nationally recognized as a leader in the field of independent living and a premier local provider of services for people with disabilities. For further information contact Gary Arnold at Access Living 312-640-2199 voice, 312-640-2102 (TTY)


Established in 1980, Access Living is a change agent committed to fostering an inclusive society that enables Chicagoans with disabilities to live fully–engaged and self–directed lives. Nationally recognized as a leading force in the disability advocacy community, Access Living challenges stereotypes, protects civil rights and champions social reform.