Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Governor Signs Executive Order to Implement Olmstead Plan

On October 12, 2005 Governor Manchin signed Executive Order 11-05 requiring the implementation of the state's Olmstead Plan, Building Inclusing Communities: Keeping the Promise. This has been a long time coming. An Executive Order by then-Governor Wise in September 2000 created our state's Olmstead Task Force, which was to create a comprehensive plan by June 2001. The deadline was extended to December, and though a plan was completed and delivered to Governor Wise, it languished on his desk and was never signed. The Task Force was later resurrected, the plan revised, and finally now will be implemented.

Though most advocates feel that this is progress toward inclusion in West Virginia, one potential negative outcome is that the state may be able to use the existence of the plan as a defense to an Olmstead lawsuit. In other words, if a person sued the state for his institutionalization caused by the failure to provide appropriate community services, the state might be able to win claiming it had an effective comprehensive plan that unfortunately the services needed were not part of because of cost.

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