On March 6th, 2018 the House Judiciary Committee convened to examine the harmful effects of class action lawsuits aimed at closing Intermediate Care Facilites for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF's/IID). The hearing came at the request of Chairman Bob Goodlatte. Testimony was presented by Martha Bryant, Mother, RN, BSN & VOR member, Caroline Lahrmann, Mother, VOR Ohio State Coordinator & past president, and Peter Kinzler, Father, longtime VOR Member, Director & Legislative Committee Chair. Alison Barkoff of the Center for Public Representation. spoke on behalf of those in favor of using class action lawsuits against ICF's/IID and opposed to providing notification to families and guardians of individuals residing in these homes.
For years, VOR has campaigned against Department of Justice (DOJ) efforts to close Intermediate Care Facilities. These efforts on the part of DOJ have resulted in the deaths of the individuals forced out of their ICF homes and into HCBS waiver settings.
VOR's Peter Kinzler has been working with Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to find ways to curtail these DOJ actions. On December 6, 2017, Representative Goodlatte sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking that DOJ "initiate a comprehensive investigation into the causes of the unspeakable number of deaths occuring across the country and suspend activities aimed at displacing fragile Americans from licensed ICFs/IID in good standing."
VOR's 2016 Annual Conference and Washington Initiative was held at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill again this year. By all accounts the conference and initiative were a great success, both in terms of reaffirming our committment to VOR's mission and in our success at getting out message to legislators and their staff members. Please click on the links below to see some of the materials presented to Congress at the Legislative Initiative, reports submitted for the confernce from state coordinators and attendees, some of the supplementary materials presented at the conference.
Click on the pages below to access downloads from the conference:
Familiar myths are leveraged in the Op-Ed “Phase out Southbury Training School and similar institutions” (January 13, 2015)
Families whose loved ones are alive today because of the highly specialized care provided at Southbury Training School (STS) and similar state-operated programs have grown weary of this finger pointing. Their family members have profound intellectual disabilities with multiple physical, medical and/or behavioral challenges. They have expensive needs. Changing addresses will not change that.
Authors Shelagh McClure and Tom Fiorentino get Olmstead all wrong – and they know better. The U.S. Supreme Court considered what constituted discrimination according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – not the Constitution – and, most importantly, the Supreme Court did NOT require the closure of programs. The Court said that “[t]he ADA is not reasonably read to impel States to phase out institutions, placing patients in need of close care at risk.” Instead, the Court held that community placement is only required when chosen by the individual according to his/her specific needs.
Where we do agree with the authors is that “the time is NOW to address the waiting list crisis.” The winning formula to address unmet needs, however, is not to displace individuals now receiving appropriate care into an already strapped service system, creating even more need. Instead, STS and programs like it, now underutilized, should be made accessible to those-in-need now and in the future.