Thursday, February 09, 2012

Private Plaintiffs File Mental Health Olmstead Suit Against New Hampshire

See this press release:
Advocates from the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Disabilities Rights Center, the Center for Public Representation and Devine, Millimet & Branch, PA, filed a class-action complaint today on behalf of New Hampshire residents with serious mental illnesses who are or are at risk of being institutionalized in state-run facilities due to the state’s failure to provide community-based mental health services. 
Over the last twenty years, New Hampshire has favored funding costly institutions over providing the community-based services and supports people with mental disabilities need to enjoy a full life in the community like anyone else. 
“The vast majority of people with serious mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities can lead fulfilling lives in their communities, provided they have the community services and supports they need to succeed,” said Ira Burnim, legal director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. “Living independently, maintaining meaningful relationships and having gainful employment should be the goal for people with mental disabilities.” 
State officials have failed to provide treatment in the most integrated setting possible, say advocates, and are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA,) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Preadmission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR) provisions of the Nursing Home Reform Act. The complaint calls for New Hampshire to expand services with proven success rates, including mobile crisis services, assertive community treatment, supportive housing and supported employment. 
Advocates filed a complaint after New Hampshire failed to respond to an April 2011 finding from the United States Department of Justice that New Hampshire’s state mental health system is in violation of the ADA. In November 2010, advocates sent a letter to two of the complaint's defendants, Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and Administrator Erik Rivera of the New Hampshire Bureau of Behavioral Health, describing the state’s violations and seeking negotiations. The complaint was filed when negotiations reached an impasse.

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