Sunday, May 21, 2017

Disability Rights Ohio sues Gov. John Kasich, state officials

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Advocates for disabled Ohioans filed a class-action lawsuit against Gov. John Kasich and the state of Ohio over what they say is illegal segregation of institutionalized people with disabilities.

Disability Rights Ohio filed the complaint Thursday in federal court on behalf of six Ohioans with disabilities and approximately 27,800 similarly situated Ohioans. The complaint alleges the state has not complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W.

State officials pushed back on the claims, saying the state is working with providers.

Why are they suing?

The lawsuit alleges people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who want to live and work in their communities can't because of limited state funding.

Large intermediate care facilities have eight or more beds and are "highly regimented and controlled, with little privacy, independence, or personal autonomy," according to the complaint. Facility residents have few if any interactions with people other than paid staff. If they work, most facility residents work in sheltered workshops, which the organization says further segregates people with disabilities.

Of the 5,800 individuals living in those facilities, 2,500 are on a wait list for a Medicaid waiver to receive services at home. Another 22,000 people who are not institutionalized are on the wait list.

Last year's state budget allocated millions of dollars for additional waivers, but Disability Rights Ohio Executive Director Michael Kirkman said the money won't fix problems with how the waivers are awarded.

Ohio is unique in that developmental disability services are provided through each of the state's 88 counties. Medicaid waivers that cover services provided in homes and communities are partially funded with local dollars. Residency in an integrated care facility is covered by Medicaid, which Disability Rights Ohio says is a disincentive to move people out of the facilities.

"Where you receive services should not depend on where you live," Kirkman said at a Thursday press conference.

Disability Rights Ohio raised its concerns with the Kasich administration in 2014. Negotiations followed, Kirkman said, but didn't pan out. The lawsuit seeks a court order forcing the state to expand choices for people with disabilities.

What does the administration say?

In addition to Kasich, the lawsuit is suing the directors of the Department of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Medicaid and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities.

Zach Haughawout, a deputy director with the state developmental disabilities department, said Disability Rights Ohio is not being truthful about its conversations with state officials to address their concerns. Haughawout said that department attorneys attempted to sit down with Disability Rights Ohio as recently as two weeks ago, ahead of the lawsuit. Disability Rights Ohio confirmed a meeting has been set up for next week.

Last year's state budget allocated $300 million to expand community-based options for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. The budget created 3,000 new waivers to cover community-based options. Haughawout said 1,200 waivers will provide options for people who want to leave the facilities or would have no other choice but to go there.

"Rather than allow the Department of Developmental Disabilities the time to implement budget changes negotiated with providers, county boards of development disabilities, self-advocates, and family members, they've decided to subject Ohioans with developmental disabilities to their singular vision  of what is best for them," Haughawout said in an email.

Full Article & Source:
Disability Rights Ohio sues Gov. John Kasich, state officials

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't see how any other option there is in order to stop those with disabilities from being forced to live in facilities? Ohio also has taken on rapidly growing practice of placing those with mental health or another disability in guardianship so they bypass any laws in place to protect those with disability. It is very obvious to see the plan Ohio has put intact to bypass the rights of Americans it called guardianship. My mother is example of this rapidly growing industry & no agency put in place to protect my mother has done anything of the sort but ignore all complaints or questions. I do hope that the meeting taking place will move this crisis in the right direction. Ohio is not following the law of guardianship either there are many other options for people rather than stripping any and all of the rights they have to be heard. Another increasing as disturbing practice taken place is the fact Ohio's courts are taking loved ones from families that truly and sincerely care for them and instead placing them in professional agencies that is resulting in isolation, abuse and their assets to be rapidly dissolved with the fee's they are forced to pay which was never asked for by them. The Probate records will show a increasing rate of children being placed with agencies against their mother or fathers wishes or even that of the child. Those agencies do a horrible job providing support, care and protection for that person but these acts are being ignored by the Probate Courts daily! There are other options other than guardianship as is supposed to be a absolute last resort & Ohio is ignoring that at a extreme rate. I do believe that their answer to even this lawsuit is that if they place those in guardianship then no one has to answer to where Ohio decides they will force that person to live? The law also states that all family members must be contacted in a guardianship proceeding but this part of the law is ignored on a daily basis then not acknowledged when brought to the court? Ohio advertises they are the top at caring for those which are in need but the person and that persons family will tell quite a different story when asked. There are so many innocent people forced to live in facilities when there are other options for them to receive a quality of life not to be isolated from their family which loves them with a disability or not.