The Olmstead Decision: An Overview
The Olmstead lawsuit originated in Georgia with Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson. These two women, who had been diagnosed with mental health conditions and intellectual disabilities, were repeatedly sent to state hospitals because they were unable to obtain supports in their community. An attorney from the Atlanta Legal Aid Society named Sue Jamieson filed a lawsuit on behalf of Curtis and Wilson for community-based supports to be provided. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which found that the Americans With Disabilities Act prohibited the discrimination against a person based on his or her disability. The Court held that people with disabilities have a right to receive state-funded supports and services in their communities if a three-part test is met:
- Professionals determine community supports are appropriate for the individual.
- The individual is not opposed to receiving the community supports.
- Community-based supports can be reasonably accommodated when other individuals in similar situations and available resources are taken into consideration.
Olmstead in Nebraska
After the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision in 1999, Disability Rights Nebraska began to urge the state to develop an “Olmstead Plan”. For 17 years, our efforts to gain traction on the issue with the Governor’s office, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Legislature were to no avail.
Last year, Senator Kathy Campbell approached Disability Rights Nebraska with an opportunity to develop the initial language for an Olmstead Plan bill. Senior Staff Attorney Dianne DeLair and Disability Rights Nebraska’s Public Policy Team cooperated with Senator Campbell’s office to produce the final version of LB 1033.
The bill became law on April 18, 2016. The law requires the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services to “develop a comprehensive, effective working plan for placing qualified persons with disabilities in the most integrated community-based service settings…” Additionally, LB 1033 created a stakeholder advisory committee to assist in the Olmstead plan’s development.
To learn more about the Olmstead Case and what it means for people with disabilities, please view a video introduction and an external source about Olmstead, the right to live in the community and beyond.