Justice Department Resolves ADA Complaint with Maine Department of Health and Human Services
(STL.News) The Justice Department today reached an agreement with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to resolve alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
A young man with intellectual disabilities (ID) filed a complaint with the Justice Department alleging that Maine imposed restrictions that placed him at serious risk of having to move from his own home into a congregate setting in order to receive the services he needs. Congregate settings are multi-person homes or facilities where residents receive needed services. This agreement will help ensure that Mainers with ID and autism can receive the personal assistance they need in their own homes.
While Maine’s Medicaid program allows unlimited personal assistance services for people living in congregate settings, the state’s community service program for people with ID and autism limits those same services when they are provided in a person’s own home. As a result, people with disabilities who need more personal assistance, like the young man who filed the complaint, may be forced to leave their homes and move to a segregated setting.
“The ADA requires states to provide disability services in the most integrated setting appropriate,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This often means ensuring that people with disabilities can receive services in their own homes rather than in congregate settings. The Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the ADA to avoid unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities and ensure their full integration into the community.”
“We appreciate Maine DHHS’s cooperation with the department’s investigation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Donald E. Clark for the District of Maine. “The settlement agreement ensures that this young man, and other Mainers with disabilities, will be able to obtain needed services in their own homes.”
After receiving the complaint, the department opened an investigation under the ADA. Maine fully cooperated with the Justice Department’s investigation. In February 2020, the department issued a letter of findings concluding that Maine was failing to provide the complainant with necessary services in the most integrated setting appropriate to his needs, which is his own home, thus placing him at serious risk of having to enter a congregate setting. The department also found that Maine had failed to modify its service program for people with ID and autism to avoid discrimination.
Under the agreement reached today, Maine will modify its policies so that people with ID or autism can receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. For example, DHHS will implement a process for granting exceptions to its cap on services provided in one’s own home. DHHS will also establish an individualized process for people to assess their options of where they want to live and receive services. For the complainant, DHHS will provide access to all needed in-home services and pay $100,000 in damages.