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Olmstead complaints give picture of what's happening
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Feb. 12, 2002 -- A "Working Paper" posted on the publications page of the website of the Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc ( ) looks at what's been happening since the 1999 Olmstead Supreme Court decision.

The authors, with The George Washington University's Center for Health Services Research and Policy, undertook "a rolling, point-in-time, descriptive study" of administrative complaints filed with the U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, based on the Olmstead ruling that services had to be provided in the "most integrated setting." The 334 complaints they looked at were filed between 1996 and mid-2001.

Although most of the complaints were filed by people who had already been institutionalized, 30 percent from people who were currently not in institutions but who felt they were "at risk for what they at least considered medically unjustified institutionalization." Many of these complaints were filed on behalf of children and adolescents.

Those who filed complaints but were not in institutions "were living with families but considered themselves to be in danger of medically unjustified institutionalization in the absence of assistance." Most of the complaints came from people in nursing homes, the study showed. Only 30 percent had been filed by people in psychiatric institutions (which was where Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson were when they filed their lawsuit that led to the Olmstead decision.)

"This is a nationwide problem; the complaints are from all regions of the country," say the authors, who add that the complaints "offer invaluable insight into the extent of the long-term care problem in the U.S. among individuals who believe that they are experiencing or are at risk for medically unjustifiable institutionalization."

"An Analysis of Olmstead Complaints: Implications for Policy and Long-Term Planning," conducted by Sara Rosenbaum, Joel Teitelbaum, and Alexandra Stewart, was funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Medicaid Managed Care Program. The document is available from the CHCS website only as 417 K PDF file. If you can handle PDF files, go to

Those who cannot access PDF files and need a text-only version can go to and put the name of this URL into their searchbox: -- Click the "search" button and Google will give you an option of viewing the file as an html text file.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has what it calls a "work in progress" report on "The States' Response To The Olmstead Decision" online at -- clicking on this link will require you to first sign onto the site as a "Public User"; then it will take you to the report. For an overview of the Olmstead ruling, go to

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