Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Take 'Em To Court

Feds Charge Florida Over Mishandling of Disabled Children
Sidney Lupkin, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer - July 24, 2013

It's good to see the Justice Department getting serious about enforcing the Olmstead decision and the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have three points to add to what's in this pretty good article:
1. Although the Florida cases seem to involve actual insensitive treatment and cruelty, the issue is really about a state denying choice. Even if the nursing homes were the most pleasant ones possible for the children and youth involved, the point is they shouldn't even be there; they should be getting their daily support and assistance they need at home. It's not about cruelty, it's about choice. 
2. It's not about money, either … except that Florida could probably be saving money overall by providing more services in homes and less in expensive nursing homes. Most likely, there are two separate care budgets, and bureaucratic barriers that prevent taking money already being paid to care for a kid in a nursing home and repurposing that money to care for them at home. 
3. Florida isn't the only state where this goes on. In fact, it happens in every state to some degree. Florida is just an especially egregious case, where the Justice Department probably feels it can make the most impact. So don't be smug, New York, California, Massachusetts, and other bluer states. When it comes to long term care policy, nobody is even close to perfect. 
4. This doesn't just happen to children and youth. It happens to adults, too, including a huge number of senior citizens. How many 85 year olds living in nursing homes do you think would choose to be there if they had sufficient services and supports available to them to live in their own homes?
Okay, 4 points. This is important dammit … in some ways far more important than restaurant accessibility, accessible parking violations, or whether people call us "disabled people" or "people with disabilities," and those are important, too. For millions of people with significant disabilities, long term care is an existential issue.