SD Needlessly Dumps Thousands Into Nursing Homes: DOJ
Feds may sue the state
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2016 10:51 AM CDT
Many people with disabilities may be able to live productive lives at home instead of in long-term-care facilities, the DOJ says.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The Justice Department may be gearing up to sue the state of South Dakota after a report released Monday found thousands of people with disabilities that could potentially be managed at home are being relegated to nursing homes or other long-term-care facilities instead, the New York Times reports. This most recent probe (the Times says there have been more than 50 around the country) is part of federal efforts to cut down on the 250,000 or so disabled people under the age of 65 "unfairly" placed in nursing homes—what a 2013 Senate committee report says flouts the Americans With Disabilities Act and violates a Supreme Court ruling made nearly two decades ago. "Regardless of their age, people with disabilities deserve privacy, autonomy, and dignity in their everyday lives," the head of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division says in the report.

One 73-year-old tells the Times some nursing homes are nothing more than "warehouses," with the paper noting patients are often kept from cooking their own meals or going out with friends unless they're signed out—"like a kid," another resident says. The 1999 Supreme Court case anchoring this civil rights dilemma, Olmstead vs. LC, ruled that, under the ADA, people with disabilities have a right to receive help without being segregated from the rest of society. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard—who was sent a 35-page letter from the DOJ outlining his state's violations and calling for "corrective action," per Disability Scoop—tells the Times in a statement he agrees with federal efforts in theory but struggles with implementation because of the many rural communities in his state. (Some want online shopping more accessible.)