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Olmstead Decision

In the field of aging some people say the Olmstead decision is equivalent to Brown vs. the Board of Education. Learn about the potential impact of Olmstead on long-term care residents and on ombudsman programs.

Olmstead Decision
In its landmark decision of June 1999, Olmstead vs. L.C. and E. W., the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) grants consumers new rights to live in something other than an institution when health or supportive services are needed. The decision applies to all governmental funded programs and to all people with disabilities, without regard to age or the kind of disability.

Federal Resources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights – Visit the HHS Community Living and Olmstead webpage for information about the Olmstead Act.  

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division – Visit their Olmstead: Community Integration for Everyone webpage for DOJ technical assistance, resources, and DOJ enforcement examples. 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Olmstead Planning Guidance
This guidance to HUD-assisted housing providers details how they can support state and local Olmstead efforts to increase the integrated housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities who are transitioning from, or may be at risk of entering, institutions and other restrictive settings.  HUD’s new guidance encourages public housing agencies and other HUD-assisted housing providers to consider the housing needs of their individual communities and their state and to partner with state and local governments to provide additional community-based, integrated housing opportunities.  Some of the questions covered include:

  • What does the most integrated setting mean and how does an integrated setting differ from a segregated setting?
  • How can HUD housing programs support state and local governments’ efforts to comply with Olmstead?
  • What role does the Fair Housing Act play?
  • Where can I find more information?

Read HUD's new guidance.

CMS Olmstead Implementation Guidance 
On June 18, 2012, the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) within CMS issued an Informational Bulletin on recent Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) actions, policies, and resources that are available to states as they continue to develop long-term service and support systems that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Olmstead decision.


Promoting Community Living for Older Adults Who Need Long-Term Services and Supports -Administration for Community Living (ACL) Center for Policy and Evaluation)

Home and Community-Based Services: Introduction to Olmstead Lawsuits and Olmstead Plans
This report provides state-by-state information on two of the major issues that have arisen from the 1999 Olmstead Supreme Court.

Questions and Answers about the Legal Interpretations of the Olmstead V. L.C. Decision


View archive here

The Olmstead Decision: Consumer Rights to and Opportunities for Nursing Home Alternatives - Hollis Turnham (January 2001)
This short paper is an introduction to the Olmstead decision and its impact on the rights and options of long term care consumers and how LTCOPs can respond to and maximize this opportunity. Key topics addressed in this paper are:The Supreme Court Decision; Federal Guidance to the States; Olmstead and Ombudsman Program Services; and other resources.

Olmstead Alert # 1: "Why is Olmstead Important?"  Hollis Turnham (February 2001)

Olmstead Alert #2: "Federal Grant Funding to Implement Olmstead"  Hollis Turnham (March 2001)

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