Ventilator-Assisted Living©

Summer 2000, Vol. 14, No. 2

ISSN 1066-534X

MiCASSA Is Back!

As part of a national “Campaign for Real Choice” in long-term care, rallies were held in Washington, DC, and around the USA in May and June to focus attention on the Medicaid Community Attendant Services & Supports Act (MiCASSA). MiCASSA was reintroduced in the 106th Congress in November 1999 by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) and designated S.1935. Recently, Danny Davis (D-Illinois) introduced MiCASSA in the House of Representatives as H.R. 4416.

MiCASSA (which had gained significant support in the 105th Congress as MiCASA) would reform Medicaid long-term care by ending the funding bias toward nursing homes and other institutions. It would allow the money to follow the eligible individual who chooses to receive services in the community instead of forcing that person into an institution.

In 1998, Medicaid spent $44 billion tax dollars on nursing homes and other institutions but only $14 billion on home- and community-based services. The average yearly Medicaid expenditure for a person receiving services in a nursing home is $23,225 compared with $7,276 for community-based services.

The bill must pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives and be signed by the President before it becomes law. The next step is to persuade the Senate Appropriations Committee to hold hearings. Please call, write, fax, or e-mail Senators Harkin and Specter as well as your own senators to urge support for this vital bill.

The Honorable Arlen Specter, Chairperson
Senate Appropriations Committee
SH-711 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3802
202-224-4254 202-228-1229 fax
202-224-3442 TDD

The Honorable Tom Harkin
SH-731 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-1502
202-224-3254 202-224-9369 fax
202-224-4633 TDD

The progress of MiCASSA can be monitored on the ADAPT (American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today) website:

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IDEA is the federal law that supports special education and related services programming for children and youth with disabilities. It has its roots in a public law originally enacted in 1975 to establish grants to states for the education of children with disabilities. IDEA requires that a “free appropriate public education” be made available to children and youth with disabilities in mandated age ranges. The final regulations for the 1997 amendments to IDEA are currently guiding school systems as they design and implement special education and related services.

Federal, state, and local governments are obligated to share expenses for funding IDEA, with the federal government funding up to 40% of the average, per-pupil special education in public schools. Unfortunately, IDEA is one of the worst unfunded mandates. H.R. 4055, which passed the House of Representatives in May 2000, would bring the funding level up to $7 billion in 2001 and to $15 billion in 2005 – finally reaching the 40% federal goal.

The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) has prepared a thoroughly comprehensive guide to the IDEA. It – and many other excellent publications –- is available online ( or by contacting NICHCY, PO Box 1492, Washington, DC 20013-1492 (800-695-0285; 202-884-8200; 202-884-8441 fax). First copies are free.

The National Campaign to Fully Fund IDEA is a national, nonpartisan, collaborative petition campaign designed to support efforts to secure increased funding for IDEA. The website is

Families and Advocates Partnership for Education (FAPE) also provides information about IDEA, as well as a toll-free number for technical assistance on IDEA, 888-248-0822. The website is

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