The foresight of past VOR members and supporters has helped VOR plan for tomorrow by building a permanent growing fund that will provide for advocacy and all of the critical VOR services for future generations. Founded more than 35 years ago in 1983, VOR is a national 501(c)(3) organization governed by a volunteer board of directors and funded solely by dues and donations. We receive no government support. Through generous donations and bequests, VOR is able to represent individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families and guardians.
Submitted to: Patricia A. Berger, Esquire, Senior Counsel/Project Manager, Pennsylvania House Legislative Budget and Finance Committee
January 6, 2015
Pennsylvania State House Resolution No. 903 (2014) directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to –
“conduct a comprehensive review and issue a report of the Department of Public Welfare, Office of Developmental Programs’ implementation of the 1999 ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States in Olmstead v. L.C., relating to the closure of State centers for people with intellectual disabilities and the provision of home-based and community-based services.” (H.R. 2014-903).
H.R. 2014-903 is motivated by an allegation that Pennsylvania does not have an “Olmstead Plan with measurable objectives demonstrating how Olmstead will be implemented.” Further, H.R. 2014-903 incorrectly indicates that the “closure of the five State centers for people with intellectual disabilities and the provision of home-based and community-based services” are the only ways to comply with Olmstead.
VOR respectfully submits that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania already has an Olmstead Plan: The Settlement Agreement in Benjamin v. Department of Public Welfare approved by District Judge John Jones on September 25, 2014.
Benjamin, a federal class action lawsuit, was filed by Disability Rights Network (DRN) alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as interpreted by Olmstead v. L.C.
In defense and leading to Settlement, Pennsylvania spent more than $1 million dollars in attorney fees and costs associated with the Benjamin litigation. Pursuing a legislative review of what has already been resolved favorably in court over 5 years at significant taxpayer expense would be contrary to public trust and an absurd use of scarce State resources.
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by VOR, June 2014
In a frank and challenging article, “The Past and Future of Deinstitutionalization Litigation,” Samuel Bagenstos, former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Obama Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and a key litigator in deinstitutionalization cases, disputes the generally-accepted view that deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill was a failure, admits that political expediency denied many people with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) quality placements in the community, and calls for the creation of a new political alliance to achieve quality community placements.
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This most recent ruling in this case DENIED the Motion to Intervene filed by seven individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are currently being served by sheltered workshops. In other words, those seven people are not allowed to join in the lawsuit at this point.
The Court took some effort to point out that the seven may be allowed to join the suit after a verdict on liability is reached but before any money or resources are allocated. The court felt that the interests of the seven were not at risk at when it comes to liability but very well may be when it comes to remediation.
The Court wrote at some length about the promises of the plaintiffs and the US government regarding their intent to not close workshops. While the Court repeated the promises and indicated it would hold them to their promises, it did not conclude for itself one way or the other about the results of this suit on sheltered workshops. In other words, while it is not the plaintiffs' intent, they may nevertheless find it a happy coincidence if their suit closes workshops. Others, of course, have different opinions and that was why the seven individuals attempted to join the suit.
We have a long way to go before this matter is finally decided and resources potentially reallocated as a result.
Read Order here
Source: Mark Eghari, Attorney at Law (Forbes Magazine, July 2, 2014)
Many people assume they will have to, in effect, disinherit a child with disabilities because if they leave them money… they’ll lose the government benefits they are entitled to.
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