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State says feds lawsuit accusing state of warehousing disabled children is 'disruptive'

Liz Dudek, secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, staunchly defended the state's handling of disabled children in nursing homes on Monday and called the lawsuit filed Monday against the state by the U.S. Department of Justice a "disruptive" lawsuit that is intended to take over "control and operation of Florida's Medicaid and disability programs."

The federal lawsuit alleges that the state is unnecessarily segregating 200 children in nursing homes who would better be served in community care and home-based settings. It is asking a federal judge to halt the practice.

Here is Dudek's statement and background:

"Florida has made many improvements in its already strong program of caring for medically complex children and helping their families cope with their everyday challenges.  Today’s Obama Administration action shows that Washington is not interested in helping families improve but instead is determined to file disruptive lawsuits with the goal of taking over control and operation of Florida’s Medicaid and disability programs.”

"Additional Background Information

"In Florida, medically complex Medicaid recipient children are entitled to receive medically necessary private duty nursing, personal care services, and other services in their home up to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Over the past year, the Agency for Health Care Administration has made improvements to their service of care, including enhanced care coordination for these families.  Over 1000 children are actively receiving enhanced care services and these services are aiding in transitioning children out of pediatric nursing facilities as well as keeping children who are being served in the community, in the community.

"These enhanced care coordination efforts have created the following successes since the beginning of this year:

  • 31 children have been discharged from pediatric nursing facilities to their family, adoptive placements, group homes, or medical foster care;
  • 6 children being discharged after hospitalizations were discharged to their family homes instead of pediatric nursing facilities due to the care coordinator’s assistance in coordinating private duty nursing; and
  • 3 children were diverted from pediatric nursing facility placements and reside in medical foster care homes.
  • 1 fair hearing request in the month of May challenging the level of private duty nursing for medically complex children in the home.  With enhanced care coordination, requests for fair hearings have declined over the past year and remain low."