by Shaun Heasley, Disability Scoop | June 8, 2021
After state restrictions left a man with intellectual disabilities at serious risk of having to move to a congregate setting in order to access the services he needs, federal officials stepped in.
The U.S. Department of Justice said it has reached an agreement with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to resolve alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations in response to a complaint from a young man with intellectual disabilities.
At issue was the Maine Medicaid program’s policies allowing unlimited personal assistance services to people living in congregate settings, but placing caps on those same services when provided to individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities in their homes.
Accordingly, people like the man with intellectual disabilities who filed the complaint could be left with no choice but to move to a segregated, congregate setting to access the assistance they need, the Justice Department said.
“The ADA requires states to provide disability services in the most integrated setting appropriate,” said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This often means ensuring that people with disabilities can receive services in their own homes rather than in congregate settings. The Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the ADA to avoid unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities and ensure their full integration into the community.”
In response to the complaint, the federal agency opened an ADA investigation, which determined that Maine was failing to provide the man with intellectual disabilities with the services he needed at his home, the most integrated setting that was appropriate. What’s more, the Justice Department said that the state had not properly adjusted its offerings for people with autism and intellectual disabilities to avoid discrimination.
Under the settlement agreement, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services will change its policies to allow people with autism and intellectual disabilities to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. That will include creating a process to grant exceptions to the limits on services that can be provided in a person’s home.
In addition, the state will provide the man who filed the complaint with all of the in-home services he needs and pay him $100,000 in damages.