The guest opinion by Sen. Tom and Harkin and Rep. Cathy Morris Rodgers misrepresents the U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision. I read that decision. They also misrepresent our state’s institutions serving our developmentally disabled citizens.
Olmstead declared a state cannot force a person to stay in an institution if that person wants to leave and professional opinion agrees. If memory serves correctly, the involved facility was a mental health institution. Olmstead declared a state is not obligated to close existing programs to create new programs for moved folks.
Olmstead did not declare that states must deny admissions to institutions serving our developmentally disabled citizens who desire such services. Closing such facilities denies choice. Those currently living in our state’s facilities choose to do so. This enhances, not denies, their dignity and rights as citizens. Cutting their Medicaid funding is wrong and will not save money.
During the early 1980s, local union leadership worked with the superintendents of our state’s institutions (Residential Habilitation Centers) for developmentally disabled citizens to create extensive learning environments where client choice is honored. Management and labor succeeded.
I state this as the former president of Lakeland Village’s WFSE Local 573.