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HHS Office for Civil Rights Ensures Individuals with Disabilities Are Able to Live in Their Homes and Communities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced an agreement with the State of Iowa to enforce Federal disability rights laws.  The investigation was based on a complaint filed by Garret Frey, who alleged that the State of Iowa violated his rights by failing to provide him with the 24-hour home-based support and services he needed so that he could continue to live at home. OCR’s action was based on three Federal laws: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Each of these laws requires that services are provided in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of a person with a disability—including within their own home and community.

“As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision affirming the rights of people with disabilities to live at home and in their communities, OCR continues to vigorously enforce these Federal rights,” said OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer. “Our resolution with Iowa represents OCR’s continued efforts to protect and ensure the civil rights of all individuals. The steps that Iowa took can serve as a model for other states to meet their legal obligations and tailor services to meet an individual’s needs.”

Iowa agreed to participate in OCR’s Expedited Complaint Resolution process to work with Mr. Frey and OCR to put in place the full array of needed support services for him to continue to live in his own home. Specific corrective actions taken by the Iowa State Department of Health and Human Services include:

  • Raising the provider reimbursement rate;
  • Allowing for respite services (short term coverage for primary caregivers);
  • Expanding the provider base to enable a sufficient array of providers; and
  • Securing necessary providers for overnight and nursing services.

OCR will continue to monitor the actions taken by the State of Iowa for six months to ensure that services are stable and adequate for Mr. Frey to continue to live at home.

A copy of the Memorialization of Corrective Actions may be found here: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/mca-ecr-between-hhs-iowa-dhhs.pdf – PDF

This action is just the latest in a series of efforts OCR has made to advance and protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. This includes the announcement of the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 final rule and the Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act final rule. 
OCR is committed to enforcing the rights of individuals with disabilities and their right to live in the most integrated setting.  

If you believe that you or someone else has been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, or religion in programs or activities that HHS directly operates or to which HHS provides federal financial assistance, you may file a complaint with the HHS Office for Civil Rights at:  https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints/index.html.