Celebrating the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

This year is the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush.  The landmark legislation prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, public transportation, telecommunications, public accommodations, and state and local government services.  Since 1990, the ADA has helped lessen discrimination and promote inclusion for people with disabilities, laying the groundwork for the Olmstead decision, the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rule, and other notable legislation and resolutions.

On June 22, 1999, nine years after the ADA was signed into law, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Olmstead decision, which mandated integration for people who were institutionalized.  Further, the Court found that institutionalization of people who could receive services in community settings was a direct violation of the ADA.  On January 16, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final rule for Medicaid participants receiving HCBS.  The rule became effective March 14, 2014, requiring that people receiving HCBS have full access to employment opportunities and live in integrated settings as appropriate for each person.    

I have worked in the developmental disabilities field for twenty-one years.  Over this time, I’ve had varying roles in administering HCBS waivers.  I’ve been a case manager assuring the coordination of services, the administrator of a county agency responsible for the oversight of programs, and part of the administrative team in state government helping to make rules and implement policy.  Throughout, I’ve seen the progression of better services, setting options, and work opportunities for people choosing to receive HCBS.  This improvement is a direct result of laws and regulations passed and decisions made that affect how people can receive services, including the ADA, Olmstead, and the HCBS Settings Rule.       

Currently, I’m part of the New Editions HCBS Settings Team.  Our team helps CMS with the national implementation of the HCBS Settings Rule, working collaboratively to assure accurate and consistent support nationwide so that states can fully, and correctly implement needed changes to make their HCBS system wholly compliant with the HCBS Settings Rule.      

States have until March 14, 2023 to transform their systems and make them compliant with the rule, nine years from the time the rule became effective. System transition takes time, and a lot of effort from many different entities.  You may have heard the idiom, “it takes a village,” a phrase that certainly pertains in this case. Through the ongoing efforts of case managers, direct support professionals, policy administrators, advocates, state and federal agencies, and contractors, the good work of assuring full integration for those who have disabilities has been promoted through the implementation of the HCBS Settings Final Rule. 

This year, you can celebrate the anniversary of the ADA knowing that the good work New Editions has the very fortunate opportunity of doing today - work which promotes fairness, inclusion, and integration for people with disabilities - is a direct result of the landmark legislation that was signed into law over three decades ago. 


Amy Coey is a Senior Policy Analyst at New Editions and has expertise in Medicaid HCBS waivers and supportive services for people with developmental disabilities.   

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