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HB 2600 Hearing: The Staley Settlement Deserves a Place in Oregon Statute

On Monday morning, the House committee on Human Services heard HB 2600. This bill codifies the Staley Settlement Agreement, which was the result of a federal class action lawsuit filed in 2000 by Medicaid-eligible adults with developmental disabilities who spent years on long wait lists for services.

The Staley Settlement Agreement is a unique and cost-effective approach to social services that draws upon an individual's own, family, and community resources. It supports community-based support brokerages that help adults with developmental disabilities connect with community resources. A leading example in the nation, it is a design that values the innate power, rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities.  These adults can locate and purchase needed services, such as job development or assistance for personal care needs.

The committee heard supporting testimony from community service brokerages, The Arc of Oregon, Self Advocates As Leaders, and Full Access, which are three of the 13 Oregon Support Services Brokerages. Kim Sellmann, Assistant Director for Full Access for the Central Oregon region, shared the story of 26-year-old Katie who was born with Cerebral Palsy.

"Due to the natural supports and the paid supports I receive from the brokerage, my ultimate goal of being able to live in my own apartment was achieved in September of last year," Katie wrote. "Without the supports I receive with my support service dollars, I would be forced to live in a facility group home or foster care; not only would this restrict my independence and remove me from my home, but the cost of my supports would increase dramatically."

Rep. Sara Gelser, sponsor of this bill, testified to the importance of establishing in statute this hard-fought for and extremely effective delivery model for services.

"This is one of the best services we offer in the state of Oregon, but it currently does not reside in our statute," Rep. Gelser said. "The reason it is invisible in our statute is that the voices of this population are so small, that they were not created by an act of the legislature. They were created by a grassroots movement of individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families that had to sue the state of Oregon in order to get a settlement to have access to these cost effective and very humane services that respect them as individuals."

"This is one of the best services we offer in the state of Oregon, but it currently does not reside in our statute," Rep. Gelser said. "The reason it is invisible in our statute is that the voices of this population are so small, that they were not created by an act of the legislature. They were created by a grassroots movement of individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families that had to sue the state of Oregon in order to get a settlement to have access to these cost effective and very humane services that respect them as individuals."

With the threat of many cuts, Rep. Gelser pointed out that this system is at greater risk of being cut than other programs. "Let's maintain the status quo, let's enshrine these critical services with this statute, and let's not roll back the clock a decade or two decades."

The Service Employees International Union Local 503  submitted testimony and urged that the core values of the Staley Settlement Agreement be established into Oregon statute. "SEIU Local 503 believes that the values of self-determination and full inclusion in one's community are basic human rights."

To listen to the audio of the hearing, click here: http://www.leg.state.or.us/cgi-bin/list_archives.cgi?archive.2011s&HHS&Human+Services
To follow this bill, visit: http://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2011/HB2600/

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