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States are failing to meet their obligations to transition individuals with disabilities out of institutions and into community settings, a year-long investigation finds.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled more than a decade ago in a case known as Olmstead v. L.C. that unnecessarily segregating individuals with disabilities in institutions is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nonetheless, a report set to be released Thursday by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee finds that the number of people with disabilities in nursing homes is on the rise and, as of 2010, just a dozen states devoted the majority of their Medicaid dollars to community-based care.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead was a landmark moment for the disability community,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the committee. “Yet … 14 years later, many states are still not making a commitment to provide all individuals with disabilities the choice to live in their own homes and communities. This is amazing given that study after study has shown that home and community-based care is not only what people want, but is more cost-effective.”

Last year, Harkin asked officials from all 50 states to provide him with information about their progress in transitioning individuals with disabilities out of institutions. The report being issued this week details what the senator found.

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Disability Scoop

A key U.S. senator is looking to introduce legislation to dramatically expand access to community-based services for people with disabilities nationwide.

An aide for U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, confirms to Disability Scoop that the veteran lawmaker is planning to introduce a bill this summer that would bolster the rights of people with disabilities to obtain the support they need in the communities where they live.

“(Harkin) is currently looking at developing legislation that would enhance community access, inclusion and support in order to ensure that all individuals with disabilities can receive home and community-based services and supports in their own towns, cities and neighborhoods throughout America,” Allison Preiss, a spokeswoman for the senator, told Disability Scoop.

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