Florida healthcare administrators will visit hundreds of medically fragile children living in geriatric nursing homes, and speak with their parents, to determine whether families are being forced to abandon their youngsters in institutions, as federal civil rights lawyers are claiming.
Almost a week after the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division released a grim report that accused the state of warehousing sick and disabled children in adult nursing homes, the leaders of two state health agencies insisted the state was in “full compliance” with federal laws that require governments to house and treat disabled people in community settings, whenever possible.
Liz Dudek, the secretary of the state Agency for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, said she had instructed her staff this week to speak with “every parent” of a child who lives in a Florida nursing home to determine whether living in an institution “is the best decision for their child.”
“Everyone, including this fragile population, deserves to be cared for with the least restricted means,” Dudek told reporters from throughout the state in an afternoon news conference. “That’s where we want children to be.”
Last week, the Justice Department sent a scathing, 22-page letter to Florida Attorney Pam Bondi, saying state health regulators were in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, a 1990 law designed to protect frail and disabled people from being warehoused in large, isolated institutions.