Olmstead Litigators Issue Statements of Support for Disability Integration Act (S.2427)

From ADAPT, June 22, 2016

On the 17th anniversary of the Olmstead decision, two legendary Olmstead litigators have released the following statements in support for the Disability Integration Act.  ADAPT thanks them for their tireless work to assure that Americans with Disabilities are not denied their inalienable right to Liberty!

Statement from Sue Jamieson, J.D.

As lead council for Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson in the Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), l have seen the remarkable opportunity that the right to integrated services provided them. The landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court established that that people with disabilities have a qualified right to receive state funded supports and services in the community. The Olmstead decision is one of the most important civil rights cases for people with disabilities, and is perhaps the clearest statement currently written in law of the right of people with disabilities to live in the community.

As we mark the seventeenth anniversary of that decision, however, we also must recognize that the promise of Olmstead, the promise of community integration, has not been realized for millions of people with disabilities in the United States. Public entities and managed care organizations still limit access to community-based services, and individuals with disabilities – unable to get the community-based services and supports they need – are forced into unwanted institutional placements in nursing facilities, state institutions and other segregated settings. To address this injustice, I support the passage of the Disability Integration Act (DIA-S.2427), a bill establishing, for the first time in Federal statute, that people with disabilities have a civil right to live and receive services in the community, rather than being segregated in institutional settings.

The Disability Integration Act secures in statute the right articulated in Olmstead in a way that will ensure that as many people with disabilities as possible are able to live in freedom. This bill calls for long-overdue changes to services and supports which can empower people with disabilities to participate more fully in our society, but which right now often have the effect of isolating and disempowering people with disabilities. I support the intention and language of DIA and strongly encourage Congress to pass this legislation, which is an important advance in the civil rights of people with disabilities. I also call on advocates in the Disability Community to commemorate this important anniversary by reaching out to your elected officials and candidates to secure their support for this bill.

Statement from Steve Gold, J.D.

On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court held in Olmstead held that “unnecessary isolation is properly regarded as discrimination based on disability.” In this decision, the Court upheld the Americans with Disabilities Act’s regulation that “[a] public entity shall administer services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.”

As we mark the seventeenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., it is important to remember that today people with disabilities remain segregated and locked away in nursing facilities and other institutional settings because states and managed care companies restrict access to community-based services. That’s why I support the passage of the Disability Integration Act (S.2427), legislation that would clearly establish in Federal law that disabled people have the right, and the real opportunity, to receive services in the community, rather than being segregated in institutional settings.

The Disability Integration Act would finally unite those of us in the community with all of our disabled brothers and sisters who have been left behind in segregated settings all these years. I am adding my voice to those of my sisters and brothers in ADAPT and the broader Disability Rights Movement to call on Congress to pass this legislation because our people have been locked away for far too long and it is time that we recognize that it is a civil right for all Americans to live in the community. I also call on advocates throughout the Disability Community to contact your elected officials and candidates for office to secure their support for this important legislation.

It’s time that the United States finally assure that Americans with disabilities are afforded their right to Liberty as guaranteed to them under the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

It’s time to FREE OUR PEOPLE!
The Disability Odyssey continues.

Beyond Olmstead : How the Disability Integration Act Advances the Right to Community Integration

The Disability Integration Act would make significant strides in advancing the issue of community integration of people with disabilities beyond existing law.  These include:

  1. creating a direct and clear statutory requirement for community integration;

  2. adding MCOs as directly covered entities;

  3. establishing a stronger definition of “community-based”;

  4. reducing the threshold of protection from "at serious risk of institutionalization" to "at risk of institutionalization";

  5. eliminating the treating professional role in determining whether community integration is appropriate for the individual;

  6. establishing specific prohibitions addressing systemic discrimination which is not only permissible under current law, but rampant across the country (waiting lists, restrictive eligibility criteria, service gaps, cost caps, and inadequate rates);

  7. requiring public entities to address the need for affordable, accessible, integrated housing that is independent of service delivery;

  8. eliminating the fundamental alteration defense so that public entities will be required to modify their programs to assure that people with disabilities can receive LTSS in the community and can lead an independent life;

  9. requiring public entities and MCOs to engage in a self-evaluation that has substantial public participation;

  10. requiring public entities to develop and implement a transition plan with milestones or benchmarks;

  11. establishing a process to assess compliance with the milestones and reward states that meet their deadlines; and

  12. establishing the ability to be awarded punitive damages.

For more information on the Disability Integration Act visit: http://www.disabilityintegrationact.org/.

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