disabled children

Judge Ends Legal Battle Over Care For Disabled Children

Jun 13, 2017
wp paarz / Flickr

With the state pointing to changes it has made, a federal judge Friday dismissed a long-running legal battle about whether Florida's Medicaid program provided proper services to children with severe medical conditions.

University of North Florida

At the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, engineering and physical therapy students are converting drivable toy cars from store shelves into custom-made fun for disabled children.

The Florida Department of Health is floating a “compromise” on how it determines eligibility for the Children’s Medical Services Program. CMS is designed for low-income kids with chronic and serious medical conditions.

Even as the state fends off two federal lawsuits over its practice of placing disabled children in nursing homes, the facilities themselves are backing away from the profitable but controversial business. 

As the Miami Herald reports, Orlando Health & Rehabilitation is closing “Grandma’s House,” its 40-bed pediatric wing.

A South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial says that Florida is failing in its care for disabled children.  A lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice accused the state of not doing enough to care for disabled children, while the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration found the suit to be “disruptive.”  The editorial slams AHCA and other Florida agencies for the lack of options when it comes to caring for disabled children.

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, saying Florida has not done enough to improve the plight of severely disabled children, filed suit against the state Monday, the Miami Herald reports. 

A mother convicted of child neglect after her 13-year-old mentally disabled daughter was found malnourished and covered in lice and crabs will spend 18 years in prison, the Florida Times-Union reports. Jessica Rivera’s daughter died a week after she was removed from the home, where authorities say three siblings lived in similar conditions.  She originally faced manslaughter charges. 

Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller explains the sad and complex situation faced by disabled children in institutions through the story of Anubis Day, who was left blind and on a ventilator after his father's alleged violent abuse.

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration wants to have care coordinators and involve parents, doctors and other health professionals to help more children get care at home, News Service of Florida reports.

Under AHCA’s new rules for disabled children, the state will pay trained professionals to perform complex medical tasks that family members were previously asked to do. Another revision will allow more parents to take their children to medical day-care centers, the Miami Herald reports.

Federal civil rights lawyers have hammered out a new proposal designed to overhaul the state’s system of care for severely disabled children. Meanwhile, AHCA continues to defend its placement of disabled children in nursing homes.

In a town hall meeting with lawmakers and AHCA, parents described the “combative” environment they deal with when trying to get care for their disabled children.

eQHealth, a private company that the state pays to decide how much nursing care disabled children need, boasted that it saved the state Medicaid program $44.8 million in the year that ended July 1 by cutting the hours allotted. Some of those children then wound up in nursing homes, the Herald reports.

Florida told the Justice Department it is not violating any laws in placing disabled children in nursing homes. The records in Marie Freyre's case and others tell quite a different story.

The state decided that Marie Freyre, a profoundly disabled child who lived with her mother in Tampa, had to be placed in a nursing home for her own safety. The state, it turns out, was wrong.