Dear Vice President Biden,
I am writing in support of Scott Mendel of Together for Choice's excellent letter released yesterday delineating some concerns about where disabilities policies, however well intentioned, might in effect limit the opportunities for the intellectually disabled to live the life that they choose and desire, and force them into a one size fits all arrangement that is not appropriate for them.
My son Jason has Down Syndrome and just turned 35. He cannot cross the street by himself and needs supervision, and if he lived in a group home he would be sitting around, isolated all day unless he were shuttled to a program for a few hours. Instead, Jason lives in a lifesharing community on a farm, where he lives in a home setting, is surrounded by caring people with and without disabilities, can move about the farm safely and be taken safely into the wider community, can work as a farmer and baker in a team, socialize with his friends, enjoy cultural activities and live a meaningful, full and happy life. Under the Settings rule, in the past, farmsteads like this might not have qualified as an option for people as they provide living and working environments in the same place and would be considered "too isolating".
After a lot of work, CMS changed the criteria to allow people to choose to live in farmsteads if this was their desire to, but I am very concerned that the criteria might be changed again to remove this very important choice.
Here is a short video about live on Plowshare Farm, where Jason lives. I hope it will help to explain what Plowshare Farm means to him, and that watching it will provide a few peaceful and pleasant moments to you and your staff.
With thanks and best wishes,