Posts Tagged ‘Americans with Disabilities Act’

Sun-Sentinel: Get Disabled Children Out of Nursing Homes

July 29, 2013

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial

If Pearl Buck was right, and “the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members,” Florida got a failing grade this week.

The U.S. Justice Department filed suit Monday against the state, accusing it of violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to do enough to keep children with disabilities in Florida from being sent for care to nursing homes for the elderly. The department’s lawsuit called it “deliberate indifference to the suffering” of those children.

The head of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, Liz Dudek, called the lawsuit “disruptive” and accused Washington of wanting to take over the state’s Medicaid and disability programs. Seriously?

The Justice Department says it spent six months investigating the plight of disabled kids in Florida nursing homes before calling on the state last September to do more to give their families the option of care at home or in community-based settings. The department filed suit after concluding that it couldn’t count on the state to comply voluntarily. (more…)

U.S. Senate Says ADA Still Lagging After Olmstead Ruling

July 18, 2013

Individuals with disabilities are still being segregated in nursing homes 14 years after the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision said the practice violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a new report from Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). (more…)

Government’s Aim to Decrease Number of Disabled People in Nursing Homes

May 22, 2013

19219705The federal government is ramping up efforts to reduce the number of disabled people in nursing homes through interagency initiatives.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decision, it is considered discrimination to “segregate” disabled people in nursing homes or other traditionally institutional settings. While many disabled people have already been moved out of nursing homes, a sharper focus is needed because the aging of the baby boom generation will increase the number of seniors with disabilities, the Education Department said in the Federal Register article. (more…)

Florida Vows to Stick Fewer Kids in Nursing Homes, Place Stronger Emphasis on In-Home Care

December 13, 2012

By Carol Marbin Miller, The Miami Herald

Florida’s top healthcare administrator is vowing to keep as many medically fragile children as possible at home with their parents — and to improve the lives of those who remain in nursing homes — amid an outcry over hundreds of children living in institutions designed for frail elders.

Liz Dudek, who heads the state Agency for Health Care Administration, outlined a series of new policies on Wednesday to help the parents of severely disabled children care for their kids at home. The new policies also are contained in a memo written Tuesday by Justin Senior, AHCA’s deputy secretary for Medicaid, the insurance program for needy and disabled people. (more…)

AHCA Secretary Dudek Battles Allegations of Children in Nursing Homes

November 20, 2012

The secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration is trying to quell questions about the placement of disabled children in nursing homes, saying a meeting between state and federal officials reinforced her view that Florida has not violated any laws, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.

“I feel even stronger about the fact that we are in compliance,” AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek said in an interview. (more…)

Florida Fires Back at Feds Over Kids in Nursing Homes

October 4, 2012

With hundreds of children still in adult nursing homes, state health administrators and federal civil rights lawyers remain deadlocked in a dispute over where the children should live.

By Carol Marbin Miller, The Miami Herald

The war of words between Florida health administrators and federal civil rights lawyers continued Friday as the administration of Gov. Rick Scott rebuffed the U.S. Justice Department’s offer to help remove hundreds of children from nursing homes.

In a letter to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Florida social service chiefs called “unfounded” the claim that the state needlessly warehouses disabled and medically fragile children in nursing homes meant to care for elders. Agency heads reached that conclusion after a two-week investigation in which they interviewed the parents or caregivers of many disabled children “to ensure that they were aware of the services available for them in the community.” (more…)

Update: DOJ to Quickly Address Children in Nursing Homes

September 26, 2012

Saying that time is “of the essence,” the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday offered to quickly meet with Florida officials about a federal investigation that found disabled children were unnecessarily being placed in nursing homes.

“Children in Florida are unnecessarily living in nursing homes,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said in a letter to lawyers for three state agencies. “Other children are at serious risk of the same fate. Families are being separated, and parents are being forced to confront the cruel choice of struggling daily to find a way to care for their child at home without necessary supports or placing their child in a nursing facility.”

The state has vehemently denied the findings of the investigation, which the Department of Justice released Sept. 4. Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek released a statement late Tuesday that said the agency is open to meeting with Department of Justice officials to “clarify their misunderstanding.” (more…)

Families Grapple with Shrinking State Services Offered to ‘Medically Fragile’ Kids

September 17, 2012

By Stephen NohlgrenTampa Bay Times

We call them “medically fragile” children, but labels don’t begin to convey the help they need to survive.

Josiah Conway, 9, sings karaoke and can zoom through an iPhone, but dozens of complications might close his airway at any moment. He stopped breathing earlier this month when medication with strawberry flavoring triggered one of many allergies.

Megan Garrett, 6, wastes away from a degenerative cell disease, has daily seizures and never leaves her bed. She smiles at her mother’s touch, but if her finger happens to land in her mouth during a spasm, she will bite down on it and scream in pain, with no idea why.

These could be anyone’s children, whether from genetic defect or too many minutes at the bottom of a swimming pool. And with nurses, machines and medicines for one child costing as much as $200,000 a year, lawmakers decided that taxpayers should often help pick up the tab. (more…)

State Denies Forcing Disabled Kids Into Nursing Homes

September 13, 2012

By Carol Marbin Miller, The Miami Herald

Florida healthcare administrators will visit hundreds of medically fragile children living in geriatric nursing homes, and speak with their parents, to determine whether families are being forced to abandon their youngsters in institutions, as federal civil rights lawyers are claiming.

Almost a week after the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division released a grim report that accused the state of warehousing sick and disabled children in adult nursing homes, the leaders of two state health agencies insisted the state was in “full compliance” with federal laws that require governments to house and treat disabled people in community settings, whenever possible. (more…)

Feds Slam Florida for Warehousing Disabled Kids

September 7, 2012

By Carol Marbin Miller, The Miami Herald

Florida health and disability administrators have been systematically dumping sick and disabled children — some of them babies — in nursing homes designed to care for elders, in violation of the youngsters’ civil rights, the U.S. Justice Department says in a report.

Hundreds of Florida children are spending their formative years in hospital-like institutions, sometimes growing up in the equivalent of hospital rooms with virtually no education or socialization, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division wrote in a 22-page letter to Attorney General Pam Bondi. Bondi’s office is defending the state against a previously filed lawsuit that claims the institutionalization of children violates federal law. (more…)