Our Mission

The Mission of the Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. is to protect, promote and expand the rights of people with disabilities.

Belief Statement

The ODLC mission reflects the belief that people with disabilities are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect; to be free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination.

The ODLC mission also reflects the belief that people with disabilities are entitled to equal rights and to equally effective access to the same opportunities as are afforded other members of society.


Disability Advocates Respond to Investment to Clear Waiting List for Services



CONTACT: Dena Drabek, The Arc of Oklahoma

DDrabek@TheArcOK.org; (405) 590-5889


Disability Advocates Respond to Investment to Clear Waiting List for Services


OKLAHOMA CITY (May 17, 2022) – The Oklahoma Legislature and Department of Human Services (DHS) announced a historic investment of $32.5 million to support Oklahomans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and the direct care workforce that serves them.

“Hope is on the horizon for Oklahomans with developmental disabilities and their support staff,” said Lisa Turner, CEO for The Arc of Oklahoma, a disability rights organization.  “We are pleased that the Legislature has prioritized the needs of this vulnerable population.  This significant funding increase will go a long way in serving Oklahomans with disabilities on the waiting list and helping them reach their full potential by living the lives they want in the communities that they choose.”

With more public dollars appropriated than ever before, developmental disability advocates and families are also calling for more accountability and transparency from DHS as they serve Oklahomans with developmental disabilities who have been waiting an average of 13 years to receive the supports needed to live more independently and participate in the workforce.

“Oklahoma Disability Law Center is pleased to see this historic commitment to fund home and community-based services in Oklahoma,” said Melissa Sublett, Executive Director of The Oklahoma Disability Law Center.  “While we are happy to see these increased efforts to serve all the individuals who have been waiting so long for services, we are also monitoring to ensure that this rush to clear the waiting list is done so in a way that protects the due process rights of each applicant and that cases are not closed simply in the interest of quickly eliminating the waiting list.”

Even with significantly more funding, some in the disability community remain skeptical after a report by the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT)  in 2021 revealed that DHS’ management of the developmental disability services waiver program has not led to substantial progress toward the state’s goal of providing services to all those waiting.

“Parents and taxpayers alike have a right to be asking questions about how the Legislature will ensure DHS spends this money the way it is intended,” said Greg Arend, CEO of Oklahoma-based SOAR Partners.  “We encourage lawmakers to request DHS track exactly how much is spent each year towards serving Oklahomans on the waiting list and publicly report it.”

While disability advocates and families say they do want to find common ground with DHS in Oklahoma’s effort to serve those waiting for long-term supports, they also cling tight to, “Nothing About Us Without Us,” – a mantra that has fueled the disability rights movement over the years.

“People with disabilities have a voice that should and must be at the table from the beginning of any planning process and should never simply be an after-thought,” said Jeryldine Schutte-Pogue, Executive Director for Oklahoma People First, Inc.  “It is important for Oklahomans with disabilities to have the opportunity to share their voice and their lived experience with those who are making changes that will affect them.”

Disability advocates and families look forward to working with DHS and the Legislature on further development of plans to successfully serve Oklahomans on the waiting list who qualify for services.  They are also awaiting the release of the LOFT’s one year follow-up report highlighting any changes made by DHS since the initial report was released in October 2021.

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Let’s Talk About the Waiting List

We spoke with Andy Moore and his co-hosts at “Let’s Pod This” about the Waiting List for HCBS waivers and the report released by the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency.  If you have questions or need more information please call us! 800-880-7755


September 16, 2021
RoseAnn Duplan,


Today the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a formal response to the June 1, 2021 letter sent by Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. (ODLC), the National Health Law Program, The ARC of the United States, The ARC of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Policy Institute, and Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. expressing concerns over the legality of the 5-year length of residency requirement imposed by the passage of HB2899. The CMS letter clearly affirms the length of residency requirement is not permitted.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) understands that House Bill 2899 places a five-year residency requirement on individuals with intellectual disabilities before they access Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires states to treat individuals who have moved recently to a state the same as individuals who have resided in the state for a longer period of time unless shown necessary to promote a compelling governmental interest. Consistent with this Constitutional prohibition, federal regulations also prohibit state Medicaid agencies from denying eligibility if the individual has not resided in the state for a specified period of time (See 42 CFR § 435.403(j)(1)). Thus, imposition of a 5-year residency requirement for the receipt of HCBS waiver services is not permitted.

ODLC’s Director of Litigation and Legal Services, Brian Wilkerson said, “We are pleased with the CMS response. We just don’t think they could have been any clearer, this type of requirement is simply not allowed under federal law. ODLC remains committed to ensuring that all Oklahomans with disabilities are able to access programs and services without discrimination or illegal delays.”

“We believe this CMS response demonstrates the vital role of organizations, like The Arc of Oklahoma and others who advocate for and with people with disabilities and their families to ensure timely access to the quality supports and services they need and want to achieve a life of personal significance,” said Lisa Turner, CEO for The Arc of Oklahoma.

June 1, 2021 Letter to CMS

September 16, 2021 CMS response


Oklahoma Disability Law Center Praises OCR’s Prompt Investigation into Concerns Oklahoma’s Restrictions on School Mask Mandates May Be Preventing Schools from Meeting Their Legal Obligations to Students with Disabilities.

August 30, 2021

RoseAnn Duplan

Oklahoma Disability Law Center Praises OCR’s Prompt Investigation into Concerns Oklahoma’s Restrictions on School Mask Mandates May Be Preventing Schools from Meeting Their Legal Obligations to Students with Disabilities.


Oklahoma Disability Law Center (ODLC) is pleased with the Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) prompt response to concerns Oklahoma’s current prohibition on School Mask Mandates is preventing Oklahoma schools from providing an equal educational opportunity to students with disabilities, who are at heightened risk of severe illness from COVID-19, as required by law.

ODLC currently represents several Oklahoma students who have been denied accommodations necessary to allow them to safely attend school given their individual health conditions which place them at greater risk of severe illness should they contract COVID-19. School Districts are citing Oklahoma’s prohibition on school mask mandates as the reason for denying these students’ requests for accommodation of appropriate mitigation measures to be put in place, despite the fact the Oklahoma law is in direct conflict with federal anti-discrimination laws.

“We have recently filed OCR complaints against both individual school districts as well as the Oklahoma State Department of Education for policies that prevent simple mitigation measures like masking in school buildings, which we believe are denying high-risk students access to a free and appropriate public education. We are pleased that OCR has responded quickly and we intend to continue to take whatever legal steps necessary to ensure the rights of these high-risk students to safe and equitable access to education in Oklahoma are enforced,” said Brian Wilkerson, ODLC’s Director of Litigation and Legal Services.

ODLC is currently in the process of filing additional federal complaints with regards to Oklahoma school districts refusing to enforce mask mandates on school buses as required by the CDC Order mandating masks be worn on public transportation including school buses. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/face-masks-public-transportation.html

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Oklahoma Disability Law Center Inc. is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Oklahoma. Its mission is to protect, promote and expand the rights of people with disabilities.




UPDATE 5/19/21:   In addition to the legal concerns we identified previously, with further research we now find that HB 2899 also violates the terms set forth by CMS for states receiving increased federal Medicaid money under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“CMS expects states to demonstrate compliance with section 9817 of the ARP, beginning April 1, 2021, and until the state funds equivalent to the amount of federal funds attributable to the increased FMAP are fully expended. To demonstrate compliance with the requirement not to supplant existing state funds expended for Medicaid HCBS, states must:
• Not impose stricter eligibility standards, methodologies, or procedures for HCBS programs and services than were in place on April 1, 2021;
• Preserve covered HCBS, including the services themselves and the amount, duration, and scope of those services, in effect as of April 1, 2021; and
• Maintain HCBS provider payments at a rate no less than those in place as of April 1, 2021.”


ODLC was made aware of language added to HB 2899 late Thursday. The language of the bill adds a requirement that a person must be a resident of Oklahoma for 5 years before they can apply for a Home and Community Based Service (HCBS) waiver for persons with Intellectual Disabilities through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

ODLC believes this duration of residency requirement is not allowable for the following reasons:

  • Creates a severe Olmstead problem because it only applies to HCBS so a person moving to Oklahoma could be admitted to a nursing home or intermediate care facility for persons with intellectual disabilities under SoonerCare but not get HCBS in a less restrictive setting.
  • Creates a residency requirement that is not allowed under Federal Medicaid Statute and Regulations –42 U.S. Code § 1396a(b)(2) and 42 CFR 435.403 (j)(1)
    • Oklahoma Medicaid Regulations mirror the Federal Language (no doubt put here to satisfy Federal requirements)OAC 317:35-5-26(a)
  • Not allowable under 1915(c) Waiver design
  • Violate reasonable promptness requirements that are not waived/waivable under 42 U.S. Code § 1396n(c)
  • Duration of Residency Requirements have been long held as unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
    • U.S. district courts have held that requiring a Medicaid applicant to reside in-state for a period of time before their benefits are determined is a violation of their fundamental rights to interstate travel as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution
  • Creates discriminatory limits on one population
    • This places restrictions only on services for those who have intellectual disabilities and poses no such limits on services for those eligible for services under the ADvantage Waiver or the Medically Fragile Waiver.

If you would like additional information, please contact our office at 800-880-7755


ODLC wants to help ensure Oklahomans with disabilities can access the COVID-19 Vaccine

Are you a person with a disability who is having trouble getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Oklahoma? Let us know how we can help! 

person wearing scrubs holding a heart shaped sign that reads "vaccine"