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Feds Sue Florida Over Medical Care of Children with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida recently. In its suit, the Justice Department alleges that Florida is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its administration of its service system for children with significant medical needs.

The DOJ alleges this violation of the ADA resulted in 221 children with disabilities being unnecessarily segregated in nursing facilities when they could be served in less restrictive settings, such as their family homes or other community-based settings. The lawsuit further alleges that Florida’s policies and practices place other children with significant medical needs in the community at serious risk of institutionalization in nursing facilities.

A Justice Department investigation, which was conducted last fall, found that Florida had placed 221 children in nursing homes that were not equipped for juvenile patients. The investigation discovered that many of those children required feeding tubes or ventilators, and some were left unattended for hours without adequate care.

In an attempt to resolve the violations, the Justice Department has met with Florida officials on a number of occasions since late 2012. Although the state has altered some policies and promised to do better, the Justice Department claim that ongoing violations remain. The federal government eventually determined that voluntary compliance with the ADA was not effective, and that a lawsuit would force Florida to properly house its patients.

Although some Florida officials consider the lawsuit an attempt by the federal government to take over control of the state’s Medicaid program, the lawsuit continues.

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