North Dakota and the U.S. government have reached a settlement over accusations the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The agreement, announced Monday. Dec. 14, resolves complaints raised five years ago that North Dakota was forcing disabled adults into nursing facilities.
“Today’s settlement is a great victory for the people of North Dakota and its government,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a news release announcing the agreement. “The settlement agreement will ensure that individuals with disabilities are no longer unnecessarily institutionalized in nursing facilities. Instead, these individuals will be able to choose to remain in their own home, near family and friends. We commend the State of North Dakota for making changes to its long-term care service system in a manner that will benefit both people with physical disabilities and their families, friends, and communities throughout the Peace Garden State. The settlement agreement is an important step towards inclusion, not just for the State, but as a model nationwide.”
Dreiband said during a news conference that he was pleased with the result.
“Several years ago, the Department of Justice notified North Dakota that it was investigating complaints that the State fails to provide adults with physical disabilities the services that they need to remain in their own homes and live in their communities, leaving them no choice but to live in nursing facilities,” he said. “In response, the state cooperated fully with our investigation, including our requests for information. The parties have now agreed to enter into a pre-suit, comprehensive settlement agreement to resolve the Department’s investigation of the state’s alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
The agreement falls in line with the requirements from the 1999 Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C., which requires states to eliminate unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities and to ensure they receive services in the most integrated setting that meets their needs.
“This settlement agreement expands the options available for home and community-based care and raises awareness to help adults with physical disabilities make informed decisions about their care needs,” Gov. Doug Burgum said in a news release. “By building on the progress we made with the 2019 Legislature, we can achieve the goal of giving adults with disabilities the choice of receiving personalized care while continuing to enjoy the benefits of community living in the least restrictive setting.”
Under the agreement, the state will create a plan for each disabled adult that includes the most integrated setting that’s appropriate as well as the person’s preference. It will also include the services the person needs and how those will be provided.
The settlement is set to last for eight years, and includes a provision where the federal government can sue if North Dakota doesn’t comply with the terms.
“This Agreement will terminate earlier than eight years if the United States determines that the State has demonstrated durable compliance with Title II of the ADA with respect to its long-term services for individuals with physical disabilities,” the settlement reads. “Durable compliance means that the United States determines that substantial compliance has been achieved and maintained for a period of one year, and expects it to be sustained.”