The State of Georgia and the United States Department of Justice signed a statewide Settlement Agreement on October 19, 2010. The agreement provides community alternatives to institutionalization for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness. The agreement also provides services for individuals at-risk of institutionalization to prevent future admissions to state hospitals. The basis of the agreement is the Olmstead v. L.C., (1999) Supreme Court decision, which requires states to provide services in the most integrated setting enabling individuals with disabilities to interact with people without disabilities as much as possible. The new agreement furthers the State’s commitment to comply with the Olmstead decision, replacing and expanding upon the Voluntary Compliance Agreement entered into on July 1, 2008.
The agreement supports the recommendations of Governor Sonny Perdue’s Mental Health Service Delivery Commission, Final Report (delivered December 4, 2008). The Commission, which began work in August 2007, concluded “…that our systems should be based on a recovery model of care and delivered primarily in community settings, with housing, employment, transportation and case management to supplement the crisis stabilization, medical management and counseling services necessary for recovery and safety.” Further, “…the Commission supports the ongoing appropriate deinstitutionalization and community reintegration initiated by the Office of the Governor…. of inpatients and prisoners with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and addictive disease in order to promote better quality of care, achieve cost savings and stretch the state funds that are necessary to ensure all our citizens with special needs are served.”
The comprehensive settlement agreement resolves the lawsuit brought against the state. Under the agreement, over the next five years, Georgia will increase assertive community treatment, intensive case management, case management, supported housing and supported employment programs to serve 9,000 individuals with mental illness in community settings. The agreement also increases community crisis response through crisis services centers, crisis stabilization programs, mobile crisis response and crisis apartments. Under the agreement, the state will stop admitting people whose primary diagnosis is a developmental disability into state hospitals by July 2011 and instead place them directly into community services. The agreement creates additional Medicaid waivers to transition individuals with developmental disabilities from state hospitals to community settings. Increased crisis, respite, family and housing support services will be available to individuals with developmental disabilities.
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