VOR Response to Pennsylvania House Resolution 903: Pennsylvania already has an Olmstead Plan
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.