Saturday, June 22, 2024 is the twenty-fifth anniversary of a landmark civil rights case for people with disabilities, Olmstead v L.C. On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court determined that people with disabilities have the right to live independently in their community, in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To unjustly segregate people with disabilities into institutions, the Supreme Court said, is illegal discrimination under the ADA. 

Twenty five years later, the fight goes on. Many people with disabilities and older adults rely upon a little help. A personal care attendant through the Community HealthChoices program often is the helping hand needed to live independently in the community. In-home care is often significantly cheaper on our tax dollars than institutional placement, too. And yet, many Pennsylvanians are unable to receive the personal care attendant services that would enable them to live independently.


Because for two decades, Pennsylvania has funded home care agencies at a rate that has lagged behind inflation. The current funding does not support a livable wage for personal care attendants and an agency’s support staff. So many potential personal care attendants leave the caregiving industry, even if caregiving is their passion. 

On this silver anniversary of the Olmstead civil rights decision, we call upon our legislators in Harrisburg to support funding for in-home and community-based services in the 2024-2025 budget. Fund the agency model Personal Assistance Services under the Community HealthChoices waiver so that agencies can pay better wages to their personal care attendants and thus enable people with disabilities to live independently in their communities, as required under the Olmstead Decision. Disability rights are civil rights.