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Olmstead Report to Benefit Persons of All Ages With Disabilities
January 3, 2001

A status report entitled Delivering on the Promise: Preliminary Report of Federal Agencies' Actions to Eliminate Barriers and Promote Community Integration summarizes actions proposed by federal agencies to address barriers to community integration of persons with disabilities. The report is a result of the US Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. LC, as well as President Bush's New Freedom Initiative and an Executive Order directing federal agencies to work together to improve the availability of community-based services for individuals with disabilities. The agencies issuing the report, including the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the Office of Personnel Management, have offered hundreds of solutions to facilitate the community integration of individuals of all ages with disabilities.

The problem statement under the section on Health Care Structure and Financing addresses the "institutional bias" that has resulted from the Medicaid program structure and has directed Medicaid long-term care funding to institutional care, rather than to community-based alternatives. The issue of recruitment and retention of personal assistants and direct support professionals is also included, with action steps to address the critical need for quality staff. It is encouraging to see the recognition of the value of home and community-based services (HCBS) at this level of government. Advocates and stakeholders will continue to work with the federal agencies to assure that the many action steps will have their desired results.

The preliminary report contains several items of direct interest to providers of children's services. These include:

  • a ten-year Home and Community-Based Services demonstration program that would allow states to set up home and community-based alternatives for children who would typically be served in psychiatric residential treatment facilities;
  • a plan to achieve appropriate community-based service systems for children and youth with special health care needs and their families;
  • an evaluated, ten-year demonstration to provide essential relief to caregivers of children who have a substantial disability;
  • creation of a Youth Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary of Labor on education, transition, employment, health, rehabilitation, and independent living issues affecting young people with disabilities;
  • activities that promote the transition of young people with disabilities from school to post-secondary opportunities and/or employment and independent living; and
  • technical assistance activities designed to provide information about the importance of the Olmstead decision and how Parent Training and Information projects may serve parents and their children with disabilities when information and assistance is needed on home and community living options.

The 50 page report is available on the Internet at www.hhs.gov/newfreedom/presidentrpt.html or by contacting Lynn Keltz or Stan Mrozowski at PCPA. Individual reports from the federal agencies will be issued at a later date.

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