New housing choices for mentally ill nursing home residents spark concerns

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A judge in Illinois on Tuesday heard arguments for and against a proposed settlement that would give thousands of mentally ill nursing home residents in the state the chance to move into community housing.

The hearing arose as a result of recent events surrounding the state's practice of housing the mentally ill in facilities and underfunding community living efforts. The American Civil Liberties Union and the state reached a settlement that would allow roughly 4,500 residents of those facilities to apply for community-based care. (McKnight's, 3/16/10) Proponents of the plan say it would allow the state's mentally ill residents to receive more appropriate care at a lower cost to taxpayers.

While no resident would be forced to move under the terms of the settlement, some in Illinois worry that nursing homes will be forced to close if too many residents choose to switch to community-based care. If that were to happen, according to some family members speaking at the hearing, those mentally ill who rely on nursing home care might not be able to survive, The Associated Press reported.

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