Earlier today, Disability Rights Ohio (DRO), the law firm of Sidley Austin, the Center for Public Representation (CPR), and attorney Sam Bagenstos filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Ohio, including the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, the Ohio Department of Medicaid, and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and initiated on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities who are trapped in institutions or are at risk of institutionalization because of Ohio's illegal service system, asserts that the state is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court ruling in Olmstead v. L.C. Six named plaintiffs, as well as The Ability Center of Greater Toledo, will represent the class in the suit.
People with developmental disabilities have the right to live, work and pursue activities in their communities with the appropriate supports they need to be successful. Currently, state funding is provided for anyone to go into an institution, but state funding for community options is very limited. This often forces individuals to accept institutionalization as their only option. This lawsuit demands that these barriers be removed so that real options are available for community supports for all individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
"Statewide, there are about 5,800 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities currently segregated in large intermediate care facilities (ICFs), and over 40,000 people are on waiting lists for waiver services that would allow them to have appropriate supports in the community," says Michael Kirkman, Executive Director of DRO. "Of those, 22,000 individuals are at serious risk of institutionalization. Historically, these waiting lists are long and excruciatingly slow moving. As of 2013, the median wait time for people in ICFs to access home and community-based services exceeded 13 years. It is time to change the system and offer real community options that fit the individual needs of every person."
For more information on the lawsuit, click here for DRO's fact sheet.
INARF applauds Disability Rights Ohio and its partners for their advocacy efforts on behalf of individuals with disabilities in Ohio.