Federal Government Sues Florida Over Children Living In Nursing Homes

Jul 22, 2013

The U.S. Justice Department is suing the state of Florida over hundreds of medically fragile children living in nursing homes. In the suit filed on Monday, the feds are calling for Florida to make sweeping changes to how it cares for the children, and to treat them at home whenever possible.

The suit claims Florida is violating part of the Americans with Disabilities Act that says people must be cared for as near to home as possible. The complaint mirrors civil suits already filed on behalf of several of the institutionalized children’s families. Lawyer Matthew Dietz, who co-filed those suits, said he hopes the new federal challenge leads to a quick resolution.

“It’s inhumane and unconscionable for any child to be left in a nursing home when they could be in a community-based setting. Hopefully, this will be enough pressure for the state of Florida to change their behavior," he said.

State healthcare regulators have maintained their policies do not violate federal law.  Still, Justice Department officials wrote them a scathing letter last October seeking change.

After the suit was filed, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek released a statement saying the state has already made several improvements to how it cares for medically fragile children, and that 31 of them were discharged from nursing homes this year.