Options Too continues to promote community living for all Minnesotans, even with future funding uncertain
Many non-elderly Minnesotans with disabilities live in nursing homes,even though they do not need the 24-hour nursing care provided. In the 1999 Olmsted Decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that unnecessary segregation and institutionalization of people with disabilities is unconstitutional. Over the last few years, Minnesota has made great strides in relocating people from nursing homes and in avoiding unnecessary admissions to nursing homes (diversion). The Options Too workgroup, a collaboration among three state agencies, continues to pursue this inclusion agenda, although signs at the state capitol suggest that its future funding is uncertain.
Options Too has its origins in the 2001 “Options Initiative,” in which the Department of Human Services (DHS) joined with community stakeholders to address issues of relocation and diversion. This work resulted in the development of Relocation Service Coordination, requirements that counties conduct Long Term Care Consultations and provision of additional transitional funding under the “shelter-needy” grant. These and other existing programs have been essential in providing a framework of a statewide system for community living for persons with disabilities.
In 2005, the Minnesota Legislature passed a comprehensive bill called the Disability Act. The Act established a workgroup, Options Too, to research nursing home relocation and diversion in Minnesota. Three state agencies convened the work group: The Minnesota State Council on Disabilities (MSCOD), DHS and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. Group members included representatives from disability advocacy and service provider organizations, county social service departments, nursing home trade associations, general and specialty hospitals, Centers for Independent Living, managed care providers, public housing, and representatives of the three state agencies. The name “Options Too” was used to link the group’s work to the original DHS initiative.
Options Too was charged with making recommendations to help consumers under 65 relocate to community living or avoid nursing home admission altogether. After receiving input and advice from stakeholders, consumers and recognized experts in the field, Options Too made recommendations in five major areas:
• Data and information: We need to collect data and information that can be used to base policies and programs and to link people with available housing and services needed to remain in the community.
• Housing: We need affordable, accessible and supportive housing options for consumers with disabilities.
• Transportation: We need to provide accessible transportation options for people living in the community.
• Quality Assurance: We need to establish adequate methods of evaluating quality and safety of consumer services.
• Ongoing Monitoring and Gaps Analysis: We need a systematic statewide effort to ensure a continuum of care is available to consumers and that service gaps are identified and filled.
The complete report of Options Too’s recommendations is available at http://optionstoo.org.
MSCOD is spearheading an effort to continue the Options Too activities and to implement its recommendations. One of these activities is an Options Too conference, Nursing Home Relocation and Assistive Technology, on May 7. Information is available at the Council’s Web site: www.disability.state.mn.us.
The other activity is a legislative bill that would keep this community-living effort moving. Currently there is no funding to coordinate the statewide effort on relocating people out of nursing homes. This bill, if passed, would do just that. Currently the bill has been heard in both the House (HF1837) and the Senate (SF1661). This bill is not included in the Senate Omnibus bill, but hopefully it will be included in the House Omnibus bill. We urge you to contact your legislators and tell them to include this very import issue in the Omnibus bill.
For more information on Options Too recommendations and activities, contact Ann Roscoe at 651-296-1747.