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HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Statement on 14th Anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead Decision


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The opportunity to live in a home of one's choosing has tremendous impact on health and quality of life. On June 22, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the importance of this choice for people with disabilities when it handed down the Olmstead v L.C. decision. This decision held that rather than being unnecessarily institutionalized, people with disabilities have the right to live in their communities with appropriate services and supports.

Like everyone, a majority of people with disabilities want to live in a home and community of their choosing. The Department of Health and Human Services is working aggressively to support and honor this right, identifying and implementing innovative policies and partnerships that advance the principles of community living and expand the delivery of home and community-based services and supports.

To help lead our efforts, HHS brought together experts from the fields of disability and aging and created the Administration for Community Living in 2012. Earlier this year, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, HHS announced nearly $98 million in funding for state housing agencies to provide rental assistance for low-income people with disabilities. Many low-income people with disabilities are transitioning from institutional settings or are at high risk of being homeless.

The Affordable Care Act has created significant incentives for states to help people avoid being placed in institutions by supporting services that enable them to live independently in their homes and communities. The health care law extended the Money Follows the Person program, through which more than 30,000 people in 44 states have left institutions and returned to their communities. The Affordable Care Act also created the Balancing Incentive Program, which provides additional funds to states to increase access to non-institutionally based, long-term services and support.

Just last month, HHS announced a $1 billion funding opportunity for innovative solutions to reduce costs and improve quality of care. This is a great chance to advance innovation in the realm of long-term supports and services, including payment models. HHS looks forward to advancing these exciting ideas and possibilities.

Every Olmstead anniversary allows us to celebrate the progress we have made. Although more work remains, so does our unwavering commitment at HHS. HHS will continue to move forward until the principles of Olmstead are a reality for all Americans.

The health care law gives Americans improved access to care through stronger Medicare and Medicaid programs and more options for health insurance coverage. The new Health Insurance Marketplace will allow consumers to compare plans and enroll, beginning Oct. 1, 2013, for coverage that best meets their needs and budget.

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