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STAUNTON--An independent reviewer concludes that the state is meeting the requirements of a court-ordered reform of the system that cares for Virginia residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The News Leader of Staunton report Saturday that the reviewer, Donald J. Fletcher, said Virginia has shown a "good faith effort" to comply with the agreement seven months into a settlement between the state and the U.S. Department of justice.
Under the settlement, hundreds of profoundly disabled people in Virginia will move from state-run facilities to community care. Those who want to remain in the training centers will have court-ordered protections.
The state and the Justice Department jointly chose Fletcher to oversee Virginia's compliance and report back to the U.S. District Court a twice a year.
The settlement agreement stems from a lawsuit the Justice Department filed against Virginia over what it called systemic violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The agency said Virginia violated federal law by needlessly warehousing hundreds of disabled people in large institutions scattered across the state instead of treating them closer to their families and in less restrictive settings.
After nearly a year of negotiations, the state and federal governments agreed to a deal that called for the state to close four of its five training centers and create 4,200 waivers over 10 years to better serve disabled clients at home or in more intimate settings.
One of the state's obligations was to fund hundreds of Medicaid waivers for people in institutions and in the community on waiting lists for services. Funded through the state and federal insurance program for the poor and disabled, the waivers pay for support services people need when they leave institutions.
The state has added 220 waiver slots for people with intellectual disabilities and living in training centers for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. Sixty-one people moved to the community from the southwestern and central Virginia training centers by June 30. Forty-one moved out of training centers between July and October.
Virginia also funded 500 intellectual disability waivers, plus an extra 75, during fiscal year 2012 and 2013 for people in the community on urgent waiting lists for services. And the state funded 150 waivers for people with developmental disabilities for fiscal year 2012 and another 25 for the current fiscal year.
Virginia plans to keep one facility open for those who do not want to remain under state care.
The Justice Department first began looking at Virginia's methods of housing the severely disabled in 2008.