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

eorgia Advocacy Office, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Georgia Legal Services Program, and the Disability Law and Policy Center of Georgia. The complaints alleged that, in violation of the ADA, Georgia has failed to treat individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs -- the setting that enables persons with disabilities to interact with people without disabilities to the fullest extent possible. "In this voluntary compliance agreement with the Federal Government, Georgia promises a serious effort to end the illegal segregation of its citizens with disabilities and to provide appropriate community alternatives," said Sue Jamieson, the attorney with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, who originally filed the Olmstead case, which arose in Georgia. "If the agreement results in long overdue residential supports and other needed community services, it could finally begin to heal the wounds we have all suffered from institutionalizing people who should be our neighbors."

Georgia's implementation of the settlement agreement will rely, in part, on a $44 million dollar Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration Grant, which was awarded to the state by the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on June 30, 2008. This grant will allow Georgia to "rebalance" its Medicaid program away from long-term institutional care to one that offers individuals the option to live in the community. Experts from HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will also work with Georgia officials to develop its community mental health system to carry out the requirements of the agreement.

"This settlement is a model for states in meeting their ADA obligations to eliminate unlawful institutionalization and provide adequate community alternatives," said OCR Director Winston Wilkinson. "To combat ongoing disability discrimination, the HHS Office for Civil Rights will continue i
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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