Landmark Olmstead Supreme Court Ruling now 12 years old

On June 22, 2011 the disability community recognized the 12th Anniversary of the historic Olmstead Supreme Court Decision. In this case, the court ruled that the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities is a form of discrimination. In the wake of the decision, advocates around the country used the ruling as a tool to open up more opportunities to live and receive supports in community-based settings rather than institutional settings.

Some states have taken a cue from Olmstead, and have rebalanced their systems of long-term care, empowering people with disabilities with the choice to receive supports in their own homes and communities instead of institutions. Other states have been slow to implement Olmstead. Illinois continues to institutionalize people with disabilities at a rate higher than most all other states. In Illinois, thousands of people with disabilities are forced to live in institutions because choices in the community are not available. But there is some good news in Illinois. Since the 2010 Olmstead Anniversary, the courts have signed off on two Olmstead Class-Action settlements. As a result of these settlements, over the next few years, people with mental illness (Williams Case), and people with developmental disabilities (Ligas Case) will be able to transition out of large institutional setting and into smaller, community-based settings.

Change has been a long time coming in Illinois, but hopefully, the original Olmstead plaintiffs will be proud.

Speaking of original plaintiffs, President Obama met with Lois Curtis at the White House today in honor of the Olmstead 12th Anniversary. Check out the story in the related URL section.

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