Rochester, NY. April 27, 2017. The Center for Disability Rights and members of the Disability Community across the United States are celebrating Minority Leader Charles Schumer’s reintroduction of the Disability Integration Act (DIA) (S.910). If passed, DIA will establish in Federal Statute the right of people with disabilities to live in the community. The Supreme Court first recognized this right in the 1999 Olmstead v. LC ruling, and the Disability Community has worked for decades to codify this right in statute.
“Individuals with disabilities have the right to live independent, fulfilling lives amongst their families and friends – but right now, they are often denied the at-home services and supports they need, that then keep them in institutional settings, often far from their loved ones and communities. I reintroduced the Disability Integration Act because people with disabilities must receive the services they need to live and thrive in the comfort of their own homes. We must do everything in our power to make sure that these individuals and families are not left behind,” said Schumer. “This legislation will finally give individuals with disabilities the option to receive services at home or in community-based residences, so that they can continue living life to the fullest in their own communities.”
Under DIA, if a State Medicaid program or private insurer would provide services in an institution to a disabled person or senior, it must offer them the choice to receive those services in the community. Although community based services are, in general, less expensive than institutionalization, many disabled people are denied the option of community based services and forced to receive services in institutions. DIA will also prohibit States from using waiting lists or other measures that have the effect of segregating people with disabilities. In return, the bill includes incentives for States to make reforms that disability advocates have long called for.
“This is the next step in ensuring disabled people’s constitutional right to liberty. The right to live in our own homes in the community is something no one should ever live in doubt about.” said Bruce Darling, CEO of the Center for Disability Rights. “We are thrilled that Senator Schumer is championing this historic legislation!”
Disability rights advocates were also instrumental in protecting existing Medicaid services from cuts threatened by the American Health Care Act, holding a protest in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda where 54 advocates, many of them individuals with disabilities, were arrested. The eventual passage of DIA promises to transform both Medicaid and private insurance in a way that secures the constitutional right to freedom for all Americans, including Americans with disabilities.