States that opt for nursing homes over HCBS may face reprimand

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The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to issue citations to several states in coming weeks for failing to keep people with disabilities in communities and out of institutionalized care.

The citations will be issued with “recommended actions,” that let states know what steps they should take to comply with federal law, according to Barry Grissom, a U.S. Attorney for Kansas. He spoke at a meeting of the Topeka Human Relations Commission on July 22.

According to Renee Wohlenhaus, a deputy chief in the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, more disabled people are being put on waiting lists for services that would help them leave nursing homes and live in community settings. She said states are only allowed to have waiting lists for services if they have an Olmstead plan that spells out how long someone could expect to wait. According to KHI News Service, Wohlenhaus said that states without Olmstead plans in place would have difficulty defending their waiting lists in court.

Wohlenhaus said her office reviews state records of people with disabilities who are being admitted to nursing homes even though their assessments show they're capable of living in the community. Her office has identified this as an area of concern.