Senator Looks To Strengthen Disability Services
A key U.S. senator is looking to introduce legislation to dramatically expand access to community-based services for people with disabilities nationwide.
An aide for U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, confirms to Disability Scoop that the veteran lawmaker is planning to introduce a bill this summer that would bolster the rights of people with disabilities to obtain the support they need in the communities where they live.
“(Harkin) is currently looking at developing legislation that would enhance community access, inclusion and support in order to ensure that all individuals with disabilities can receive home and community-based services and supports in their own towns, cities and neighborhoods throughout America,” Allison Preiss, a spokeswoman for the senator, told Disability Scoop.
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The move comes less than a year after Harkin issued an investigative report on the status of community living services for those with disabilities.
Under a 1999 ruling in a case known as Olmstead v. L.C., the U.S. Supreme Court decided that unnecessarily segregating individuals with disabilities in institutions is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nonetheless, Harkin’s report found that many states are not meeting their obligations to move people out of institutional settings and individuals often face long waiting lists to receive supports in the community.
“Chairman Harkin’s 2013 investigative report showed that the integration mandate of the ADA, reinforced by the Supreme Court Olmstead ruling, still is not being met across the United States,” said Preiss who indicated that the senator wants to use legislation to close gaps in services that were apparent in his findings.