Feds Sue Florida for Warehousing Children with Special Needs in Nursing Homes

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida, accusing it of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by placing children with severe special needs in nursing homes rather than in less restrictive settings.

Last fall, a Justice Department investigation discovered that Florida had placed 221 children, many of whom require feeding tubes or ventilators, in nursing homes that are not equipped for juvenile patients. Investigators discovered that some children were left unattended for hours without adequate care.

The state responded to the Justice Department's report with a promise to do better, but the federal government determined that voluntary compliance with the ADA, which requires that people with disabilities be treated in the least restrictive setting available, was not working and that only a lawsuit would force the state to properly house its patients.

Speaking to the Tampa Bay Times, civil rights lawyer Matthew Dietz explained that "[t]he suit I think will show to both the nursing home industry and to states that it is not a viable option to place a human being who could feel, who could see, who could interact into a geriatric nursing home where they have no connection with their family, with their communities . . . It's an inhumane practice." Florida officials condemned the Justice Department suit, calling it an attempt by the federal government to take over control of the state's Medicaid program.

To read an article about the lawsuit in the Tampa Bay Times, click here.

To read the Department of Justice's press release describing its action, click here.

Article Last Modified: 07/30/2013