Senate HELP Committee Releases Report on Olmstead Implementation
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Tom Harkin released a report on Thursday that details the ways in which state service systems fail to meet the integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The mandate is an outcome of the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision, which affirms the right of people with disabilities to live in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.
The report, titled "Separate and Unequal: States Fail to Fulfill the Community Living Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act," is the result of a year-long investigation of all 50 states on the progress made to transition individuals out of institutions. While the report highlights that nationally, states are investing more on community settings and less on institutional settings, by 2010 only 12 states spent more than 50% of Medicaid funds on community-based care instead of institutional care. Key findings reveal that almost a quarter of a million working-age Americans remain unfairly segregated in nursing homes, and that the number of working-age Americans with disabilities confined to nursing homes is growing.
Based on report findings, the Senate HELP Committee recommends Congressional action to add an amendment to the ADA to strengthen the law's integration mandate, and to amend the Medicaid statute to require every state that participates in the Medicaid program to pay for home and community-based services.