The Disability Rights Center and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced an agreement September 6 requiring the state to provide new services for dozens of people with “severe physical disabilities” looking to live independent lives in their communities.
The Disability Rights Center, along with National Health Law Program and Maine Equal Justice Partners, filed a lawsuit on behalf of three people with cerebral palsy in December 2009. Despite their disabilities, the three individuals have regular mental function and are capable of living outside of of a nursing home setting.
The lawsuit was expanded in early 2010 to include more than 40 people in similar predicaments.
“I think that this is a group of people who have sort of fallen between the cracks,” said Jack Comart, an attorney with Maine Equal Justice Partners, in an article with MPBN News. “I think the state’s done a relatively good job in offering community placements to people with other types of disabilities, but this group sort of got shunted over into nursing facilities because the state didn’t really know what to do with them.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires states to provides services to ensure people with disabilities can live in the most integrated settings according to their needs.
The agreement, which has not been made public, would require the state to provide services for people with cerebral palsy and other similar conditions on par with its services for other types of developmental, and mental, disabilities. The agreement is waiting for approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine.”
“A nursing home is a dependent environment that does not promote a progression toward independence,” said Linda Elliott, the mother of one of the plaintiffs, in an article in the Bangor Daily News. “You can’t take a young person and put him in the same setting as an 80- or 90-year-old and expect a different outcome.”
The Disability Rights Center is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.