Six elderly Florida residents are alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in their lawsuit against the state over the length of time it takes them to get in-home Medicaid care.
Approximately 50,000 state residents remain on a waiting list for in-home Medicaid services which can take over three years to access, driving some to enter nursing facilities to get the care they need, according to reports.
National statistics show that there are more older adults and adults with disabilities on the waitlist for community-based services in Florida than any other state.
The suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida contends that patients face hardships without proper in-home services, placing them at risk during a long wait to get the service. Thousands of elderly residents have died while they were on the waiting list, and in addition to their suffering, it places a strain on families trying to provide the care their elders need.
Florida has a capped system of long-term in-home care through Medicaid with a limited amount of space, and people are kept waiting to be accepted.
According to the suit, the present system is forcing elderly residents to enter nursing homes seeking the care they need which is an alleged violation of the Olmstead provision of the ADA, which dictates that people with disabilities and older people have the right to acquire care services in a setting appropriate to their needs.
The majority of people on the waiting list are over 60, with more than half over 74.
About 22 percent of Florida’s Medicaid spending for long-term care goes to home-based services, making it among the worst in the nation. The average among states is 45 percent.
The lawsuit asks that in-home care services be increased to handle greater capacity and speed up the waiting period to provide personal care such as bathing, dressing, or assistance using the bathroom.
In the state of Florida, there are different levels of Medicaid care. The Medicaid Waiver Program provides benefits for in-home and assisted living care. The requirements are that the patient is Medicaid-eligible and needs a nursing home level of care. Sadly, as this case shows, the program is underfunded and there is a long wait list.
Depending on the level of need and existing support, individuals may wait up to three and a half years before getting care at home. Between July 1, 2016, and March 8, 2018, more than 1,400 people on the waitlist had to move to nursing facilities. In this same time period, more than 8,600 people died while on the waitlist.