Decision Could Help Thousands Leave Illinois Nursing Homes
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 28, 2006
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--A federal judge has granted class-action status for a lawsuit that could help thousands of Illinois residents with mental illness to move out of large nursing homes and into smaller, community-based settings.
The suit was filed in August 2005 by two people who were forced into nursing homes known as "institutions for mental diseases" or "IMDs". They claim that they were "needlessly segregated and inappropriately warehoused" in the facilities in violation of federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The decision to grant class-action status could directly affect the estimated 5,000 people currently housed in the for-profit, state-funded facilities, according to a press release from Equip for Equality, Access Living, the Roger Baldwin Foundation of American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
"Illinois' failure to provide sufficient community services to people with mental illnesses is not only a civil rights violation, it also is bad fiscal policy," said Barry C. Taylor, Legal Advocacy director for Equip for Equality, the state's protection and advocacy system.
"The State can access federal Medicaid funds for community services that are not available for IMDs. In a time of tight budgets, the state should maximize federal funding for the citizens of Illinois."
"Press release: Federal Court Advances Challenge to Illinois Policy Warehousing Residents with Mental Illnesses"