Obama Administration Pushes States To Provide Community Living
Community-based living for people with disabilities got a boost recently when the Department of Justice filed friend of the court briefs in lawsuits against three states.
The briefs were filed in support of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. LC and EW. In that decision, the court said that states have an obligation to give people with disabilities the option to receive care in a community setting, where medically possible.
President Barack Obama said earlier this year that his administration would beef up enforcement of the court decision, which dates back to 1999. And, in late November the Justice Department took action by filing briefs in lawsuits against the states of Connecticut, Virginia and New York.
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In Connecticut, the federal government is supporting a suit brought by Connecticut Protection and Advocacy that’s challenging an alleged lack of community placements for residents with disabilities who are currently living in large, private nursing homes.
Meanwhile, the brief filed in Virginia supports an effort by the ARC of Virginia to block the state from spending millions of dollars on a new, segregated facility for people with intellectual disabilities. The ARC is asking that the money be spent on community-based options instead.
And in New York, the Justice Department is supporting a proposal to provide new living options for adults whose placements in large homes were deemed to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act earlier this year.
“As the Supreme Court determined in the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. case, unjustified institutionalization stigmatizes individuals with disabilities as unworthy of participation in community life. New York, Virginia and Connecticut can successfully provide community-based housing, such as scattered site apartments with supportive services, and the law requires them to do so to prevent unnecessary institutionalization,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s civil rights division.