H.R. 2032, introduced by Rep. Barney Frank, would make it more difficult for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to enforce their right to live in the community. In fact, this bill would make it harder for people with ID/DD to bring any kind of class action involving institutions, including abuse and neglect cases. The bill would also make it harder for the Justice Department to enforce the rights of an individual choice of health care services that is best for people with disabilities.
For example, H.R. 2032 would creates different rules for class actions brought by people with disabilities than those brought by anyone else. The bill would allow residents of institutions – and their guardians – to take them out of a class action lawsuit when it is brought. The proponents of this bill – a group called Voice of the Retarded – claim that this bill is needed to prevent people from being forced to live in the community if they don’t want to or if it would be unsafe. The R-Word should not have been used. However, it does not seem to believe that a person with ID/DD can make their own decision. The bill gives the guardians and institutions more power to prevent people from going against them just based that they have control of the individual. Let’s face it, if the system is wrong… the individual should have the rights to tell the system that it IS WRONG.
But people who want to stay in an institution already have that option in Olmstead cases. What this bill would do is stop many of the current class actions that are already in action. These guardians will have the opportunity to prevent the individual from going forward without ensuring that no one can enforce their rights. That is wrong.
This bill is opposed by a number of groups, including:
- Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
- National Disability Rights Network
- Epilepsy Foundation of America
- American Foundation of the Blind
- American Bar Association
We understand that H.R. 2032 may be set for markup during Congress’s lame duck session, as early as the last week of November or the first week of December. Ask these important members of the House Judiciary Committee leaders and/or Co-Sponsors that this bill, which has never even had a hearing, should not be marked up and should not go forward. This bill would take away the rights of people with disabilities and would keep them in institutions.
Ask them to rescind their sponsorship &/or let this bill die in committee.
Deaf Systems Advocate
Regional Center for Independent Living (RCIL)