Via Steve Gold:
"Forced Institutionalization of People With Disabilities Is Illegal" -
DOJ and Federal Court Ruling.
By Gail Zoppo - Jun 25, 2010 reprinted from DiversityInc.
The U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Fla., ruled this week that
Michele Haddad must be provided with services that will allow her to stay
in her home. Haddad, who has a spinal-cord injury caused by a motorcycle
accident with a drunk driver three years ago, was at risk of being forced
into a nursing home because of changes in her caregiver situation.
Although the 49-year-old woman has been on the waiting list for Medicaid
community-based waiver services for two years and had alerted the state of
her need, she was told that the requested services would only be available
if she was admitted to a nursing home for 60 days.
In Haddad v. Arnold, the plaintiff argued that she would suffer
irreparable harm if forced to enter a nursing home.
The court agreed, ordering the state to offer Haddad community-based
services. The reason: Segregating people with disabilities is a form of
discrimination, as found in Olmstead v. L.C. This landmark
disability-rights decision determined that isolating people with
disabilities in institutional settings deprives them of the opportunity to
participate in their communities, interact with individuals who don't have
disabilities and make daily choices. The ruling also acknowledged that
unnecessary institutionalization stigmatizes people with disabilities.
The Olmstead decision, which marks its 11th anniversary this week, is not
the first such case that the U.S Department of Justice has filed briefs.
The DOJ is involved in several other cases in Illinois and New Jersey, as
part of its mission to end discrimination against people with
"In the Olmstead case, the court recognized that the unnecessary
segregation of individuals with disabilities stigmatizes those individuals
as unworthy of participation in community life," stated Assistant Attorney
General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez. "By supporting Ms.
Haddad in this case, we seek to ensure that individuals with disabilities
can receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate, where
they can participate in their communities, interact with individuals who
do not have disabilities and make their own day-to-day choices."
The Department of Justice's involvement in these cases reinforce the Obama
administration's national efforts to protect the rights of all people.
"This work is a priority for the Civil Rights Division, and we are
committed to aggressive enforcement of Olmstead so that we can build upon
progress made over the last 11 years," said Perez earlier this week. "But
our work is only one piece of a larger, administration-wide effort to make
the promise of Olmstead a reality for individuals with disabilities
nationwide. Real reform requires a holistic approach. As a lifelong public
servant, I recognize that the most vexing problems a government faces are
those that require unprecedented interagency collaboration and
coordination. The unnecessary and illegal institutionalization of
individuals with disabilities who would be better served, and better able
to contribute to their communities, if they were provided services in
integrated settings, is one of those problems."
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