Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Medicaid funds would more easily flow toward people wanting home- and community-based services — and away from nursing homes — under a new bill unveiled by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

His “Community Integration Act” is aimed at speeding implementation of the Supreme Court’s 15-year-old Olmstead ruling. That decision called for government funding to be spread out more evenly among care settings for disabled people.

A report from Harkin’s staff last year said 200,000 working-age people remain “unfairly segregated” in nursing homes. This is largely due to a “nursing home bias” in Medicaid, they say.

The bill would prohibit states from making people ineligible for home- or community-based care due to a “particular disability,” according to a June 24 statement from the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, which Harkin chairs.