- A Department of Justice investigation revealed in South Dakota many services for the disabled are only being provided in nursing facilities, The New York Times reports.
- Forcing disabled individuals to live in nursing homes, away from their families and communities, violates the Amerian Disabilities Act (ADA) and South Dakota has failed to prioritize home-based services over institutional care, according to the DOJ.
- South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s is reviewing DOJ’s findings.
The ADA and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. requires states to offer services to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs. Yet in South Dakota, thousands of individuals are unnecessarily forced to live in nursing homes to get those services, the two-year investigation revealed.
People with disabilities deserve privacy, autonomy and dignity, Vanita Gupta, head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. Instead, South Dakota’s long-term care system fails to give them the choice to live in their own homes and communities.
According to DOJ, most people with disabilities need assistance with routine daily tasks, rehabilitative therapy or nursing services that could be provided in community-based facilities, rather than institutions.
More than 80% of the state’s long-term services budget goes to nursing facilities, but that could be reconfigured to emphasize home and community-based services, the agency said. People who live in rural areas and on reservations are especially hard-pressed to find home and community-based services.
At any given time, about 3,400 people are living in South Dakota nursing facilities whose placements are financed by the state, the DOJ said.