Disability Integration Act
Last week the Olmstead v. L.C. Supreme Court decision celebrated a 20 year anniversary. What does that mean? This decision in a nutshell means that people with disabilities have the right to live in the community receiving appropriate community based services (Personal Care Assistance (PCA) services, Long Term Services and Supports. The decision at first was believed by the disability community to be an avenue to be able to live in their own community in any state. The disability community is still waiting 20 years later.
The Supreme Court decision intended for people with disabilities to have access to long-term home health services which would be provided in the least restrictive environment. Currently that’s not happening as Medicaid programs throughout the country exhibit an institutional bias. Although Medicaid funding is supposed to be supporting program such as the PCA Program (or similar programs) a majority of the Medicaid funding continues to support a larger proportion of Medicaid dollars towards nursing homes. In effect the lack of community services remains a huge obstacle for people to be discharged from nursing homes to go back into the community of their choice.
To solve this problem each state has been mandated to create an Olmstead Plan which provides clear directions indicating how services can be provided to people living in the community. For the most part, the states’ Olmstead Plans have not been established nor has any oversight. People with disabilities were hoping they could finally depend on their state to provide services keeping them in the home. That hasn’t happened.
Stavros, other independent living organizations, consumers and friends have an opportunity to expand the intentions of the Olmstead decision. It’s called the Disability Integration Act (DIA). The DIA would be a national law guaranteeing people with disabilities with disabilities would not have to depend on the states’ ineffective Olmstead plans.
Thankfully, our Congresional Delegation supports this legislation. If you know people outside of the state of Massachusetts ask them to contact their congressional representative asking them to support The Disability Integration Act. If you speak to our Congretional Delegation say thank you for supporting the rights of people with disabilities.
Joseph Tringali/Stavros Advocate
PS If you don't know whos is your Congressperson you can find out at the Secretary of State website https://www.sec.state.ma.us/wheredoivotema/bal/myelectioninfo.aspx