Yesterday, ASAN wrote a letter to Arizona’s Medicaid agency urging it not to classify segregated “farmsteads” as community-based settings. Unlike traditional farms, autism-specific farmsteads are segregated, disability-specific settings where people work for less than minimum wage, and where people have few or no opportunities to work side by side with people who do not have disabilities. Farmstead residents live, work, and receive services all on the same campus.
Federal regulations issued last year require states to re-evaluate the settings that receive funding from Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) programs. All states, including Arizona, must submit “transition plans” that explain their process to re-evaluate these settings. Settings that are particularly likely to isolate – like gated communities, farmsteads, “villages,” or housing on the grounds of institutions or hospitals – must go through an extra layer of review by the federal government. During this layer of review, the setting must prove that it does not actually segregate or isolate people with disabilities.
ASAN believes that farmsteads like the ones discussed in its letter are highly likely to isolate. As a result, states cannot use Medicaid HCBS funding for these settings. Instead, we urge states like Arizona to develop truly integrated housing and supported employment services – including services that will enable people to live and work in integrated rural settings.