WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) last week led a letter, which included other members of the Ohio delegation, to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell expressing concern about guidance released by CMS that describes the types of settings in which states may use federal Medicaid funds to pay for home and community based services (HCBS). Under this guidance, a “farmstead or disability-specific farm community” is listed as an example of a residential setting that has the effect of isolating individuals receiving HCBS from the broader community.
“Our state is home to several farmstead programs, like Bittersweet Farms, which is located in Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District,” said Latta. “These programs provide vocational and education programs, as well as residential support, for people with autism that enable these individuals to maximize their potential. CMS’ guidance could inhibit the availability of these types of services for the individuals who benefit from them. I join my colleagues in urging the Secretary to remove rural, farmstead or disability-specific farm communities from this list, so all Ohioans can continue to have a choice in participating in these farmstead programs.”
“Programs such as Northwest Ohio’s jewel, Bittersweet Farms, provide crucial services for those with autism as well as confidence for their families and guardians,” said Kaptur. “We urge the Secretary to review the proposed exclusion of farmstead environments in CMS rule making. Experience shows that settings such as Bittersweet Farms have measureable benefit in better outcomes for participants and result in improvement in the daily lives of so many with autism.”
A copy of the letter can be found here.