WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the Disability Integration Act, legislation which would help assure the full integration of Americans with disabilities into communities nationwide.
America has come a long way in ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal rights and opportunities, particularly with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 – legislation Congressman Sensenbrenner strongly supported and fought on behalf of alongside his wife, Cheryl. Despite these advancements, there are still lingering issues that need to be resolved to ensure true integration and freedom for our nation’s disabled.
The Disability Integration Act would amend the ADA to address many of these issues by making clear that every individual eligible for long term services and support (LTSS) has the right to choose how they receive support and assure that the states and other LTSS funders provide services in ways that allow beneficiaries to live as independently as possible.
Among other things, the bill establishes a comprehensive state planning requirement comparable to the transition planning processes required under the ADA and would require them to address the need for affordable and accessible integrated housing, as well as establish targeted enforcement measures.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The passage of the ADA was a significant step forward in the fight for equal rights for Americans with disabilities, but more than 20 years later, there are still problems that need to be solved. The Disability Integration Act identifies challenges that still exist and provides comprehensive and effective solutions that will help these individuals fully participate in daily life.”
Additional Information about the Disability Integration Act
The Disability Integration Act defines discrimination based on Title III of the ADA with a general rule and specific prohibitions. The general rule states, “No public entity or LTSS insurance provider shall deny an individual with an LTSS disability who is eligible for institutional placement, or otherwise discriminate against that individual in the provision of, community-based long-term services and supports that enable the individual to live in the community and lead an independent life.”
The Disability Integration Act identifies specific prohibitions to address the various ways that access to Home and Community Based Care (HCBS) LTSS have been limited. Additionally, public entities must assure that there is sufficient affordable and accessible housing available to allow people to live in non-congregate, independent housing in the community.
The legislation also requires that all public entities and LTSS insurance providers must complete a self-evaluation within six months after the regulations are released. Within one year of completing the self-evaluation, public entities must submit a transition plan for addressing the issues identified in the self-evaluation and achieving the purpose of this legislation. The plan must address these issues as soon as practicable, but public entities have up to 10 years to complete the plan. The Secretary, through the Administration on Community Living, is charged with reviewing and approving state transition plans.
Finally, the Disability Integration Act provides the Attorney General with the authority to enforce this law in a manner that is consistent with other titles of the ADA. An individual who believes they have been discriminated against in violation of this law may bring a civil action for preventive relief and the Attorney General may intervene if he certifies that the case is of concern to the general public.