Plight of Paralyzed Youth Highlights Martin Luther King's Dream of Justice for All

Martin Luther King Jr.’s spirit lives on in the hearts of Americans who – like Choice Centered Medicaid (CCM) – advocate for the rights of those whose voices might not otherwise be heard. On December 21st, thanks in part to the efforts of CCM, Hector Pantojas, 24, returned home just in time for Christmas after spending five years of his life in a nursing home.

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Hector Pantojas, 24, paralyzed from a tragic accident reunites with his family after living in a nursing home for five years.

"Middle class America may not realize that their freedom is threatened; to receive Medicaid services means they can be forced into institutions in order to receive benefits,” says Joe Stango, founder of Choice Centered Medicaid.

Connecticut (PRWEB) January 14, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” But for a young Connecticut man, confined to a wheelchair and a nursing home, justice was finally served when his only wish – to return home to live with his family – was granted. On December 21, 2010, after five long years in a nursing home, he came home to stay.

Though just twenty-four, Hector Pantojas has already spent five years of his life in a nursing home. But thanks in part to the efforts of Joe Stango’s Choice Centered Medicaid(CCM) along with Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and the Connecticut Department of Social Services (CDSS) – on December 20th Pantojas received the happy news that Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person (MFP) program had approved his long-awaited return home…just in time for Christmas.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, works, and philosophy of equality and justice for all left an indelible mark on the United States. His beautiful spirit lives on in the hearts of Americans who – like CCM and its supporters – advocate for the rights of those whose voices might not otherwise be heard. CCM shares the stories of people like Pantojas’s with the world, in the hope that justice will never again be delayed or denied to Medicaid-eligible disabled and seniors.

Pantojas was a typical teenager with a big smile, and a passion for the New York Yankees. He was looking forward to completing high school, and becoming an independent young man. And then, tragedy struck; an auto accident left him confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak or walk. All he had left to live for was the love of his family. But because of Medicaid’s rules, Pantojas has spent five years of his life in a nursing home, away from his family and the community he loves.

“Across this country, nursing home care is a Medicaid entitlement, but home care is not,” says Joe Stango, founder of Choice Centered Medicaid. "Middle class America may not realize that their freedom is threatened; to receive Medicaid services means they can be forced into institutions in order to receive benefits.”

Pantojas’s family had a loving, supportive home in New Haven, just waiting for him. But before MFP’s approval, Hector believed he was going to spend the rest of his life in a nursing home, isolated from relationships he cherished, and the only world that brought him joy.

“The nursing home did a great job,” says his sister-in-law Maria Rodriguez. “They all love him there, but we noticed with all of us around, he was a lot happier.”

CCM advocates for equal treatment of institutional care and home care, allowing consumers to choose where Medicaid services are received. CCM’s mandate is to change the face of Medicaid across the nation. ChoiceCenteredMedicaid.com features a petition tool where citizens can get involved in bringing choice-centered Medicaid to their own state.

For those interested in becoming involved in making choice-centered Medicaid a reality, go to http://www.choicecenteredmedicaid.com.

About Choice Centered Medicaid (CCM)

Founded in 2009 by Joseph Stango, Choice Centered Medicaid is a grass roots movement whose objective is to end the government bias that forces middle class Americans into nursing homes. CCM advocates for equal treatment of institutional and home care, giving Medicaid-eligible consumers the choice between the two. Money Follows the Person (MFP) – a program Stango advocated for – passed the legislature unanimously in 2006, moving Connecticut closer to choice-centered Medicaid; hundreds have since been transitioned home from institutions. Stango’s mandate has broadened: changing the face of Medicaid in every state. CCM encourages Americans to embrace choice-centered Medicaid, and enable millions of seniors and disabled to live their lives in freedom.

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