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A Major Win for Disability Rights
We have a big win to celebrate, thanks to our legal advocacy work, the leadership of The Arc of Indiana, and the power of the disability community. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski case. This Court upheld the rights of Medicaid beneficiaries to seek legal recourse when state officials are violating their rights.
As you know, due to your work on the ground navigating complex government systems, the people who need them most often face barriers and discrimination. Private lawsuits have been one of the only ways people can meaningfully enforce their rights in Medicaid and other crucial programs. This decision also ensures there is accountability for service providers, which has a direct impact on the quality of services and supports that millions count on. Frankly, we were worried about this case—not because we didn’t have the stronger argument, but because of the dynamics on the Court.
This is a big victory, worth celebrating in Indiana and across the country.
Ruben Rodriguez, Acting CEO and COO
Senators Want ‘Guardianship Bill Of Rights’
by Michelle Diament | March 31, 2023
New efforts are underway on Capitol Hill to address inconsistencies in guardianship across the nation and promote alternatives for people with disabilities who need assistance managing their affairs.
A bill introduced this week in the U.S. Senate would establish a national council tasked with identifying best practices for helping individuals avoid or leave guardianships and how to modify such arrangements.
The council would also be tasked with collecting data on guardianships at the state and national level and interrupting what’s known as the “guardianship pipeline” whereby health and education professionals often recommend that families of youth with disabilities pursue guardianship. In addition, the bill would include funding for state protection and advocacy agencies to help those being considered for or living under guardianships.
There are an estimated 1.3 million adults nationwide under guardianship. In such cases, a court has determined that these individuals need someone else to make financial, health or other types of decisions for them.
“While guardianship is intended to be protective for older adults and people with disabilities, it can also lead to the loss of rights, fraud, exploitation and abuse,” reads a fact sheet from Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who introduced the bill known as the Guardianship Bill of Rights Act along with Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa.
Casey cited recent news reports detailing guardianship abuses in Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada and in the New York City area all within the last two months. He also referenced the case of pop star Britney Spears who spent more than a decade under a court-ordered conservatorship during which time she said she was forced to work, medicated and prevented from trying to have a baby.
“More than a year after Britney Spears’ case brought guardianships into the national spotlight, there are still countless families across the nation fighting against exploitative or abusive guardianships with little recourse,” Casey said. “My legislation would address the nation’s patchwork guardianship system and explore alternatives to guardianships to protect Americans’ civil rights while getting them the support they need.”