LINCOLN – The State of Nebraska will comply with federal requirements to create a statewide plan to provide disability services under a bill passed May 13.
LB570, introduced by Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont, requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop what is known as an “Olmstead Plan,” which is a plan to provide services to qualified individuals with disabilities in the most integrated community-based settings.
The State of Nebraska has been out of Federal compliance with regard to the Olmstead case for years.
In the Olmstead case, the U.S. Supreme Court found that unjustified segregation and institutionalization of people with developmental disabilities is unconstitutional and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Senator Walz said in April 2019 that Nebraska is “very much in danger” of being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice or an individual with a discrimination claim arising from the state’s lack of an Olmstead Plan.
In short, an Olmstead plan for disabled persons ensures that the State has a plan to enable the handicapped to function in a community connected environment, and experience a normal, healthy life – as opposed to institutionalization, which unfairly segregates disabled people who are not a substantial risk to themselves or others.
“This is about quality of life that we are helping to provide to citizens—and everyone deserves the best quality of life that we can give them,” Walz said. “We are quickly approaching the 20th anniversary of the [Olmstead] decision and our state still does not have a plan in place.”
Walz’s LB570 passed the legislature 44-0 this morning, and the Nebraska DHHS is now required to develop an Olmstead plan with the University of Nebraska, the Equal Opportunity Commission and the state departments of Correctional Services, Economic Development, Labor, Transportation and Education. The plan will be completed by Dec. 15, 2019.
The bill also adds the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Public Service Commission to the Olmstead Plan stakeholder advisory committee.
LB570 also requires DHHS to work with an independent consultant to assist with continued analysis and revision of the Olmstead Plan. This analysis will be provided in a report to the Legislature by Dec. 15, 2021, and every three years going forward.