Capitol Correspondence - 08.25.17

Funding Bill Includes Language Minimizing Olmstead Requirements

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In a House Committee report on a FY2018 funding bill by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, there is language that discusses the implementation of the Olmstead decision and its role under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Committee expresses support for the intent behind Olmstead, but also expresses concern that the decision may be improperly used to impose community-based services on individuals who would prefer to remain in institutional settings. In the report, the following language appears (emphasis added):
The Committee recognizes that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) encourages states to administer services for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) ‘‘in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.’’ As a result of enactment of the ADA and the Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C. (1999), there has been a National trend towards deinstitutionalization, whereby individuals have been encouraged to move out of State-run and other Federally-funded, certified facilities and into residential settings in their respective communities. However, the Committee is aware that many family members and legal guardians of individuals residing in these facilities have been pressured to move their loved ones into the community against their wishes. The Committee is concerned about the adequacy of community-based housing and the lack of specialized care and support services available in them, the pace of transfer, higher rates of abuse and mortality in community settings, and the adequacy of opportunities for residents to express views and preferences throughout the process. The Committee fully supports the ADA’s goal of enabling people with I/DD to receive services ‘‘in the most integrated setting appropriate to the[ir] needs.’’ However, the Committee also notes that Olmstead held that the ADA does not condone or require removing individuals from institutional settings when they are unable to handle or benefit from a community-based setting and that the ADA does not require the imposition of community-based treatment on patients who do not desire it. Congress endorsed the same principle in the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Act of 2000. The Committee strongly urges the DD Act programs (state developmental disabilities councils, protection and advocacy systems and university centers for excellence in developmental disabilities) to continually consult with parents and guardians of those individuals within these facilities. The Committee urges the Administration on Community Living to monitor this matter and to include an update on the efforts to ensure compliance with bill language requiring notification in the fiscal year 2019 Congressional Justification. The Committee strongly urges the Department to ensure that DD Act programs properly account for the needs and desires of patients, their families, and caregivers, and the importance of affording patients the proper setting for their care, into their enforcement of the ADA.