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Justice Dept. to Fla. Health Officials: 'Time Is Of The Essence' For Kids In Nursing Homes

The U.S. Department of Justice is requesting to meet with Florida healthcare officials within two weeks to resolve issues with how the state treats children with severe disabilities. It’s threatening a lawsuit if the state doesn’t cooperate.

The request for a meeting comes after a federal investigation into six Florida nursing homes found that many of the 220 disabled children who live in them were being unnecessarily "warehoused" away from the rest of society.

A letter to the state in early September said Florida frequently denies Medicaid coverage for disabled children and leaves cash-strapped parents no choice but to put them in nursing homes. When this happens, the state pays nursing home companies more than twice the amount it does to house the elderly.

And the justice department says, isolating disabled people from the rest of society violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But Florida health care regulators at the Agency for Health Care Administration maintain that the state isn’t violating the law.

On Tuesday, the justice department sent a new letter requesting a meeting as soon as possible. The letter says, for the children in nursing homes, “time is of the essence.”