The Olmstead Act
Washington, DC, June 22, 1999 -- In rejecting the state of Georgia's appeal to enforce institutionalization of individuals with disabilities, the Supreme Court today affirmed the right of individuals with disabilities to live in their community in its 6-3 ruling against the State of Georgia in the case Olmstead v. L.C and E.W.
Olmstead's L.C. (Lois) and E.W. (Elaine) had spent the majority of their lives in mental institutions. For several years, their treatment teams acknowledged that they no longer met the requirements for involuntary confinement, but refused to release them to a community-based program with appropriate services. The State of Georgia can no longer provide disability services to a mentally or physically disabled person in an institutional setting if he or she could be served in a more integrated, community-based setting.
"No person should have to live in a nursing home or other institution . . . unnecessary institutionalization of individuals with disabilities is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Clinton Sec. of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. "If I were disabled I would want this choice -- and so would you."
On Jan. 14, 2000, HHS Sec. Donna Shalala forwarded the Executive Order to U. S. governors pointing out that states were responsible for obeying the June 22, 1999 Olmstead Supreme Court decision, which mandated "that services be provided to people in the "most integrated setting" in keeping with the Americans with Disabilities Act's integration mandate.
Missouri Governor Carnahan signed an Executive Order on April 18, 2000 to establish the Home and Community-Based Services and Consumer-Directed Care Commission. The objective of the Commission was to develop Missouri's "comprehensive, effectively, working plan," as recommended by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Commission issued its Final Report on December 31, 2000. Many of its recommendations are based on the work and recommendations of the Olmstead Stakeholders Group.The recommendations include three basic principles:
- We can agree that no American should have to live in a nursing home or state institution if that individual can live in a community with the right mix of affordable supports.
- We can agree that we all have the right to interact with family and friends in our communities...to make a living...and to make a life.
- And we can agree that it will take time, effort, creativity and commitment from all of us to make this a reality.
Since Olmstead’s L.C. and E.W. have moved from institutional life into the community, each has progressed in ways that reveal the monotony of their former circumstances -- for example, L.C. takes long neighborhood walks and has (after many years) reconnected with her mom and sister. She visits the mall and picks out her own clothes. She has favorite meals and has learned to plan a menu. She quit a 3-pack a day cigarette habit. She speaks clearly and communicates well. She has two close friends at the group home. She loved her first airplane trip to Washington, and her meeting with a variety of media in connection with the Supreme Court consideration of her case.
E.W. spent a year in a group home, where she decorated her own room, organized picture albums, and made regular weekend trips home to be with her extended family. She now lives in a house with a caretaker and friend, who works during the day while EW is at her pre-vocational program. EW is increasingly independent. She takes complete responsibility for her own medical needs, an area that institutional doctors felt was problematic. She shops, cooks, chooses her own clothes, attends many family events and celebrations. (Elaine passed away on December 5, 2004).
For additional Olmstead information please visit; http://www.gcd.oa.mo.gov/Olmstead/olmstead.shtml