Disabled Individuals Sue State Over Long-Term Care

A group of disabled individuals has filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Illinois under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), asking the state to permit them to receive long-term care services at home rather than in a nursing home. The lawsuit alleges the state has been violating the ADA by not providing enough resources to allow the individuals to receive care in their homes or communities.

Represented by three public interest agencies -- Access Living, Equip for Equality, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois -- as well as Stephen F. Gold, a national disability rights lawyer, and the law firm Ross, Dixon & Bell, LLP, the disabled individuals allege that they are being segregated in nursing homes and that unnecessary institutionalization is discrimination under the ADA. According to the lawsuit, 60 percent of disabled, non-elderly nursing home residents would rather receive care at home.

The individuals are asking the court to order Illinois officials to assess nursing home residents for community long-term care services, inform residents of home and community based options, and provide eligible residents with services and support in the community instead of requiring them to move into a nursing home. 'Under federal law, nursing home residents have the right to receive long-term programs in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs,' said Ed Mullen of Ross, Dixon & Bell, LLP. 'The plaintiffs who filed the complaint today, as well as many others, have had that right systemically denied.'

"It's really an issue of money," Mullen told the Chicago Tribune. "[The state is] making the choice to put more money into institutions than community care."

According to the Tribune, the state claims it is committed to making sure individuals with disabilities can remain in their homes.