The Latonya Reeves Freedom Act is bipartisan and bicameral civil rights legislation that addresses the injustice of people who need Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) being forced into institutions.
The legislation, a previous version of which was known as the Disability Integration Act, builds on decades of Disability advocacy and activism to end the institutional bias and provide seniors and people with disabilities Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) as an alternative to institutionalization.
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Senate version of the bill. Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced the House version. The legislation has Republican support which includes Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) who is a cosponsor.
The legislation ensures Disability Freedom by:
- clarifying that every individual who is eligible for LTSS has a federally protected right to receive services and supports in the community;
- requiring that states and other LTSS insurance providers deliver services in a manner that allows Disabled individuals to live in the most integrated setting, have maximum control over their services and supports, and lead an independent life;
- articulating the right to live in the community without creating unnecessary government programs, ensuring that states have broad latitude to determine how they will secure this right;
- establishing a comprehensive planning requirement comparable to the process states used to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act which includes addressing disparities in the provision and availability of HCBS; and
- requiring public entities to address the need for affordable, accessible, integrated housing that is independent of service delivery.
The bill is named for Latonya Reeves, who after having been institutionalized as a child, found herself at risk of being sent back into an institution because the state of Tennessee did not provide the services and supports Latonya needed to live in freedom. Deborah Cunningham, the Executive Director of the Memphis Center for Independent Living, helped keep Latonya free by coordinating Latonya’s escape to Denver, Colorado and the open arms of the Reverend Wade Blank from the Atlantis Community. Latonya blazed a new trail on what would become the Disability Road to Freedom. In the decades she has lived free in Denver, Latonya has worked to support other people with disabilities transitioning into the community and been an activist with ADAPT.
Hear Latonya tell her story in the video below.
Signup below to receive updates on how you can help turn the Latonya Reeves Freedom Act into a reality.