Home Care For Seniors And Disabled Must Be Enough To Prevent Nursing Home Entry
Thursday, February 09, 2017
Tallahassee, FL – In her 90s and unhappy with nursing home care, Josephine Hollister, wanted only to go back to her home of forty years to live out her life. Like more than 45 thousand Floridians who are elderly or disabled, Hollister was enrolled in the state’s Medicaid managed care program that is supposed to provide home health services for people who would otherwise need nursing home care. When Hollister went home, however, she was denied the services her doctors thought she needed. Determined to live on her own home, she exhausted her own small income and had to rely on voluntary help from her guardian to get the services she needed.
Hollister and four other citizens sued Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), contending that the system places them at risk of having to enter nursing homes because adequate standards for home care were not in place. As the result of a recent settlement of the lawsuit, enrollees in the Long Term Care program will have significantly more protections in place to ensure that their care needs are adequately met at home. Hollister was able to get the services she needed to stay in her own home, where she passed away on January 10th with her beloved dog by her side.
Under the settlement, AHCA agreed to adopt rules requiring Florida’s Medicaid Managed Care companies “to provide an array of home and community-based services that enable enrollees to live in the community and to avoid institutionalization.”
The plaintiffs contended that the managed care organizations ignored critical issues such as need for supervision, caregiver availability, and access to community services.
Nancy E. Wright, Esq., who filed the lawsuit along with Disability Rights Florida and Southern Legal Counsel, says, “The long-term care program is supposed to substitute for nursing home care, allowing people to remain in their own homes or in less restrictive community settings. When care needs are not met, caregivers are pushed to the extreme, and enrollees are not safe or just end up going into nursing homes, like it or not.”
“The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disability, which includes being forced into unnecessarily restrictive settings to receive care,” says Amanda E. Heystek, Esq., Disability Rights Florida. “Ms. Hollister wanted to live at home and just needed the right amount of care in order to safely do so.”
For more details about the settlement, see Big Changes Coming to Florida’s Medicaid Long-Term Care Program in the Disability Rights Florida News Feed.
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