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Statement on the 21st Anniversary of the Olmstead Decision

Today is the anniversary of the Olmstead Supreme Court Decision. The Olmstead Decision asserted that people with disabilities have the right to state-funded community supports, instead of institutions. (https://www.olmsteadrights.org/about-olmstead/)

Your civil rights, including your right to receive services in your community, are not waived during a disaster.

The pandemic is shining a spotlight on the risks of congregate facilities, such as nursing homes, psychiatric facilities, group homes, prisons, and immigration detention centers.

Congregate facilities are risky environments because of the close proximity of individuals, limited PPE supplies, and lack of training that increases the spread of COVID-19, among both those who live and work there. Importantly, infections and deaths in these facilities are disproportionately impacting Black and Brown disabled people.

Congregate facility infections and deaths were preventable.

Nursing homes and congregate care facilities have an obligation to protect the people who live and work there.

Instead, nursing homes are seizing the opportunity to lobby various states for immunity, so that community members- and their families- will not be able to sue for lack of preparedness.

The time is now to set our people free!

Here’s what you can do:

1. Check out www.reaadi.com to learn more about pending legislation that prevents institutionalization in disasters: Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion in Disasters Act (REAADI) and Disaster Relief Medicaid Act. (DRMA)

2. Contact your Congressional representatives and let them know your thoughts on the institutionalization of people during disasters.

3. While you’re on the phone, tell them to make Money Follows the Person permanent. This program facilitates the transition for people in nursing homes back into their communities.

4. Also, ask your Representatives to increase funding for Home and Community-Based Services, providing the resources to support people living independently in their communities.

[You can read more about the issue of institutionalization in disasters in a report issued by the National Council on Disability: Preserving Our Freedom: Ending Institutionalization of People with Disabilities During and After Disasters. https://bit.ly/37Qi601]

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