Illinois Budget Woes Spoil ADA Birthday Party
July 26, 2010
CHICAGO - Twenty years ago today, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) civil rights legislation became law. Ramps have been built and adaptations have been made, enabling more Illinois residents with disabilities to live and work in the community.
But Gary Arnold with Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago says millions of dollars in state budget cuts threaten that progress.
"If those cuts stand, we're going to lose a lot of our community-based services, and as a result, some people from the disability community in Illinois will be forced into institutions."
The ADA gives people with disabilities the right to stay out of institutions, Arnold says, even if they need someone to help them get out of bed or get dressed. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right to live independently, he says, in a case involving two Georgia women who sued to receive in-home services.
"The Olmstead decision is a ruling that states around the country have used as a tool to rebalance systems of long-term care, so that people do have the choice to get services that enable them to live in the community in their own homes."
Rahnee Patrick with Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago says federal government rules require Medicaid to pay for nursing home services, but those rules do not require states to pay for in-home help. That discrepancy, she explains, causes problems.
"We do know of people who have been limited in the services they could receive last year. They are putting the squeeze on people with disabilities right now."
Justice Department officials say that compliance with the Olmstead decision has been so slow that the federal government has filed lawsuits against the states of Georgia, Arkansas and New York, and has participated in lawsuits brought against Connecticut and Illinois, to force these states to provide community-based services.