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Georgia to Offer More Community Living Alternatives for Individuals With Disabilities
Date:7/2/2008

HHS' Office for Civil Rights and Georgia Reach Statewide Olmstead Settlement Agreement

WASHINGTON, July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 2,300 individuals with disabilities currently institutionalized in Georgia's eight public psychiatric hospitals and mental retardation facilities will have the opportunity to live in their communities with appropriate supports tailored to meet their individualized needs as a result of a settlement agreement between the state of Georgia and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Under the settlement, signed Tuesday, Georgia also will involve consumers and advocates in planning how best to provide adequate community services to meet the needs of all Georgians with disabilities who are either living in institutions or at risk of institutionalization without community supports.

"Georgia's commitment to improve its community services through this settlement furthers the President's New Freedom Initiative by supporting independent living and individual choice," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "This agreement provides persons with disabilities greater opportunities to live within their home communities and have full access to community life."

By enhancing community alternatives to institutionalization under the settlement, Georgia will promote individuals' rights under the United States Supreme Court's 1999 ruling in Olmstead v. L.C. that the unnecessary institutionalization of individuals with disabilities constitutes discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"Every Georgian who faces mental illness or developmental disabilities has the right to be treated in a way that not only ensures the best outcome, but allows for the highest quality of life," said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. "We've worked hard to make this agreement work, and the state of Georgia is committed to completing this effort."

The agreement settles statewide complaints filed with OCR by the G
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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