State, Federal Officials Meet to Discuss Children in Florida Nursing Homes

After meeting with federal officials, Liz Dudek, secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), said she is convinced that Florida is in compliance with the law in its placement of children with disabilities in nursing homes.

In September, the U.S. Department of Justice released a scathing report alleging that children with complex and costly medical conditions had been placed by the state into nursing homes in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law does not strictly forbid the practice, but requires that in cases where the state provides medical aid to disabled children, those services should be provided in the child’s home or community whenever feasible.

The AHCA has battled the allegations since the release of the report. It said it has contacted parents of children placed in nursing homes to make sure they are aware of all options available to them in the care of their children. The possibility of a Department of Justice lawsuit, however, still looms.

A lawsuit brought by the families of the children is already pending in federal court. Platinffs’ attorneys are expected to file a motion soon to have their case certified as a class-action lawsuit—a move the state opposes.

The AHCA issued a press release saying it has contacted the families of all children in Florida nursing homes. It said 14 percent of those families initially expressed interest in their children being moved home and receiving medical care there instead of in nursing homes, but after learning more, all but one percent decided to keep their children where they are.

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