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The Olmstead Decision


On June 22, 1999 the United States Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified isolation of individuals with disabilities is properly regarded as discrimination based on disability.

The Court found that unjustified institutional segregation amounts to discrimination because it perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that people with disabilities are incapable or unworthy or participating in community life. Moreover, the Court found that confinement in an institution also severely curtails everyday life activities, such as family relations, social contacts, work, educational advancement and cultural enrichment.

All states have begun moving in the direction of providing more services in community-based settings. Georgia, however, lags begind other states in its efforts in this area. More than 5,500 Georgians with significant disabilities currently need help to either stay out of institutions or get out of institutions; some of these individuals have been waiting for more than 10 years for appropriate services. Georgia is currently 45th in national rankings in the proportion of state dollars that are allocated to funding disability services.

On May 20, 2010 the Center for Medicaid sent a letter to all State Medicaid Directors concerning a Community Living Initiative in light of the approaching 20th anniversary of the ADA and the 11th anniversary of the Olmstead decision. Please click here to read the full text of the letter.

In June of 2011 the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division issued a Statement on Enforcement of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the ADA and the Olmstead decision. Click here to read the Statement.

Click on this link for a brief history of the Olmstead decision.

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