These days, it’s difficult to shock many Americans. We’ve grown numb to the incredible goings-on in the government; no one has given up, but few know what to do from here. After reading that the Department of Justice has just sued Florida, and then delving into the reasons why, this just might be the absolute worst reality in our society. Few things that are making news today are as disturbing as this lawsuit and what it claims. It’s also the one story that’s not being covered.
In late July, the DOJ sued the state of Florida for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The “Americans” specified in the suit is what’s so disturbing. Florida has forced, according to the lawsuit, at least 200 disabled children into nursing homes. There were other options the state could have pursued, including the many home and community based services (HCBS) that would not have forced these kids into such a regimented and structured environment.
The suit outlines a number of allegations, including its certainty that Florida deliberately limited those HCBS possibilities by:
- enacting policies and engaging in practices that have resulted in the denial or reduction of medically necessary services;
- failing to provide sufficient reimbursement rates for in-home nursing services;
- failing to ensure sufficient capacity in its HCBS waiver programs; and
- failing to ensure there is sufficient capacity in non-institutional, out-of-home settings that are able to service children with significant medical needs
In other words, the state is lazy.
Even worse, the lawsuit insists this is an “increasing trend of institutionalization among Florida’s disabled children”. If the HCBS funding isn’t used, it will be pulled. It’s the way the government deals with financial programs provided to states: use it or lose it.
At some point in the past two years, Florida removed the ceiling for the number of beds in nursing homes, which means already-overcrowded nursing homes are about to become even more problematic.
The effects on these little ones are outlined in the study that was ordered to justify the lawsuit. It found that those who are placed in nursing homes are isolated from their families because they have to go where there are open beds – which is sometimes hundreds of miles from their homes. Not only that, but their education suffers tremendously – many are receiving absolutely no kind of education.
A 2013 report from the Florida Administration for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, shows that these children have no meaningful or appropriate activities. It also said that many of them went “extended periods” with no stimulation or learning opportunities. Their physical health suffers as well. In one nursing home, it was discovered 12 school age kids in nursing homes had received NO visits from physicians for close to a year, which placed them in “ongoing and immediate jeopardy”.
Meanwhile, as I’m typing this, Nancy Pelosi, just now out of her meeting with the president, is smiling and speaking of the “5 year old child” who’s going to be protected, courtesy of our intervening in the Syria conflict.
The problems in this country, courtesy of the twisted politicians and misplaced priorities, are deeply affecting our little ones to the point they may never recover. Be sure to read the report from the National Council on Medicaid Home Care. It outlines the maddening lawsuit in more detail.