Twenty years have passed since the Olmstead decision by the Supreme Court, which found that people with disabilities have a right to receive services outside of institutions, and to be fully integrated in their communities.
The 1999 Olmstead v. L.C. decision fundamentally changed the lives of Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had both been institutionalized and living in isolation for an extended period of time after they had been voluntarily admitted into a state-run psychiatric unit for treatment. Even after mental healthcare providers approved their release, Curtis and Wilson were, essentially, stuck in the institution.
In a first-of-its-kind use of the ADA–which was less than a decade old–Curtis and Wilson filed a lawsuit. The result was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court, which found that confining individuals “greatly diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment.”
Since the Olmstead decision in 1999, many people have been freed from institutions and have a legal right to live where they want to live.
Listen to Ruth Bader Ginsburg deliver the majority opinion for the court:
Hundreds of mentally ill people who have been confined to nursing homes, sometimes in prisonlike conditions, would move to apartments or other housing within three years under a legal settlement with New York State.
Health-care providers on Wednesday lambasted state changes to a Medicaid program that make it harder for patients, particularly the elderly, to get in-home care for such everyday activities as eating, bathing and going to the bathroom.
Advocates for people with disabilities have filed a federal class-action lawsuit seeking to block the state from cutting in-home care services to 4,000 low-income individuals who need extensive assistance to remain at home and out of an institution.
The members and staff of Community Access Unlimited applauded a state plan to provide people with disabilities and/or their families an annual stipend to help pay for the cost of providing services. New Jersey has proposed the $10,000 to $15,000 stipend in light of the state’s inability to provide people with disabilities sufficient access to community living, as required by law.
Josue Rodriguez sat in his motorized wheelchair on the south steps of the Capitol today and urged an audience of hundreds of disability advocates to continue fighting for their freedom. “What we need are vital services that keep us independent,” the El Pasoan said.
A U.S. District Court judge in Illinois has certified a class action lawsuit on behalf of eight people with severe disabilities who have either aged-out of a medical program for children or who are in danger of soon reaching the age cut off.