June 22 Marks 21st Anniversary of Olmstead Decision
Today (June 22) marks the anniversary of the Olmstead v. L.C. decision in the Supreme Court, where two women with disabilities, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, lead the charge to make the integration mandate a reality in this county. The ruling established that unnecessary institutionalization is a form of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We must continue to expand an array of community-based and integrated options, encourage full, meaningful inclusion in community life, and build economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. Supporting home and community-based services is more critical than ever in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the terrible toll it continues to exact from people with disabilities, their families, and support staff across the country.
To honor this victory against unnecessary barriers to community living, and in the face of staggering harm to people with disabilities in congregate settings, we urge you to contact your Senators to pass legislation that includes the critical needs of people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional workforce.
Our Nation continues to reckon with the impact of racism and police violence in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta over the weekend, and countless other lives lost. Speaking out on the oppression of any group and against hate and discrimination in its many different forms is part and parcel of what disability rights is all about. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities and Green Mountain Self-Advocates, has created a plain language booklet on police violence and anti-black racism to help people understand more how these issues all relate to one another and what people with disabilities can do. See The Arc’s statement that was released following the killing of George Floyd.
On June 3, the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing titled, “Protecting the Right to Vote During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Witnesses were Stacey Abrams, Chair, Fair Fight Action; J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel, Public Interest Legal Foundation; Barbara Arnwine, President, Transformative Justice Coalition; Jocelyn Benson, Secretary of State, State of Michigan; Michelle Bishop, Disability Advocacy Specialist for Voting Rights, National Disability Rights Network; Tom Fitton, President, Judicial Watch; Dale Ho, Director, Voting Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union; and Myrna Perez, Director, Voting Rights and Elections Program, Brennan Center for Justice. Visit the Committee website for more information or access video of the hearing.
On June 2, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, The Arc released a statement condemning the ongoing violence and police brutality against black people in our country. In the statement, The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns stated, “The Arc renews its own commitment to social justice and the dismantling of the systems of oppression and discrimination that further this violence and neglect.” Read the full statement.
On April 3, The Arc along with many disability organizations released a guide for states and hospitals on applying the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) bulletin on avoiding discrimination in treatment rationing. The document emphasizes that federal disability rights laws protecting people with disabilities against discrimination apply to hospitals experiencing a medical equipment, bed, or staffing shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also states that every patient must be treated as an individual, not a diagnosis; and it reminds care providers of effective communication requirements for with people with disabilities, among many other recommendations. Read The Arc’s statement.
On March 28, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a guidance bulletin stating that health care providers are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities based on stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgement about their relative worth even during a pandemic. The guidance also says that treatment decisions should be based on an individual assessment. The Arc has filed three complaints with OCR in response to treatment rationing plans in Washington, Alabama, and Tennessee.
On March 6, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule prohibiting electrical stimulation devices (ESDs). These devices have inflicted painful abuse on residents of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts for decades. The rule takes effect on April 6, and all individuals currently subject to the devices must be transitioned off by September 2. Read The Arc’s statement.
On January 16, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Accessible Voting Act (S.3206). This bill establishes an Office of Accessibility within the Election Assistance Commission to oversee efforts to expand voter accessibility, establishes a new voter accessibility website, and provides additional assistance to states to increase accessibility in the voting process. Additionally, the bill ensures individuals will not lose their right to vote solely because they are placed under guardianship. Learn more. The Arc supports this legislation.
On November 6, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released a report titled “Quality-Adjusted Life Years and the Devaluation of Life with Disability.” The report details the use of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) in the evaluation of treatment coverage. QALYs are based on the premise that the value of one year of the life of a person with a disability is less than the value of one year of the life of a person without a disability. The report recommends, among other things, prohibiting the use of QALYs in Medicare and Medicaid.
The National Council on Disability (NCD) recently released “Genetic Testing and the Rush to Perfection,” the third report in a series on Bioethics and Disability. This report examines the range of scientific, commercial, professional, and social factors that converge around prenatal genetic testing and their effect on the lives of people with disabilities; and it provides an update on the interaction between genetic testing and employment discrimination.