In its third major class action settlement in recent years to overhaul Illinois’ system of institutionalizing people with disabilities, Equip for Equality announced August 30 a proposed agreement with the state of Illinois to transfer more than a thousand people with disabilities into less restrictive settings, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under the first phase of the plan, the state will subsidize apartments, as well as personal assistants and other services, to 1,100 residents in Cook County, Illinois who currently living in nursing homes. In the second phases, the state will implement a comprehensive plan to move Medicaid recipients from nursing homes to more community and home-based settings.
“This is a momentous day for nursing home residents with disabilities,” said Steve Libowsky of SNR Denton, the lead attorney for the class, in an Equip for Equality news release. “Because of the way services in Illinois are funded, thousands of people with disabilities are forced to live in nursing homes rather than houses or apartments of their choosing.
If the Court approves this agreement, Illinois will afford people with disabilities a real opportunity to live and participate in their communities and will no longer make a nursing home the only housing option.”
Equip for Equality filed a lawsuit against the state in August 2007, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Access Living, alleging that the state was breaking federal law by unnecessarily institutionalizing people with disabilities in the county and providing them few options to transfer into new settings.
Once the settlement is approved, the plan requires the state to evaluate at least 500 individuals for a potential transfer to community-based services, with at least 2,000 individuals evaluated within 28 months.
By the end of the first year, at least 300 individuals must be evaluated and transferred to community-based settings, followed by 800 individuals by the end of the second year and 1,000 by the 30th month.
In June, Equip for Equality and the state of Illinois announced a six-year timetable to evaluate whether thousands of people with developmental disabilities are receiving appropriate community-based services.
Equip for Equality is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.