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PCPA Report – Olmstead Overview 2007
May 10, 2007

PCPA has written a report that provides an overview of the US Supreme Court decision issue in 1999 in Olmstead v. L.C. This lawsuit against the state of Georgia questioned the state’s continued confinement of two individuals after state hospital physicians had determined they were ready to return to the community. Both of the Olmstead plaintiffs, identified as L.C. and E.W. to protect their privacy, were diagnosed with mental retardation and mental illness and both women voluntarily admitted themselves to Georgia’s state mental hospitals. Eventually they and their treatment team decided that they were ready for "community-based care." However, they remained in the hospital because Georgia had no available community-based housing or services for them and no funding to generate more housing and services to accommodate them.

The lawsuit was based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), stating this law required mental health programs to be administered in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities. The court rejected the state’s argument that the hospitalization continued due to funding decisions, not a decision to discriminate. They interpreted the ADA to mean that states could not legally require people with disabilities to remain institutionalized in order to receive health care services and this unjustified isolation was a form of discrimination.

This report provides an overview of national litigation, Pennsylvania efforts including the Olmstead Subcommittee, and additional resources.

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