DOJ looking into Utah’s system for providing home care

The Department of Justice recently confirmed it is investigating Utah’s system for providing home and community based medical services, as well as a policy requiring individuals with disabilities to spend 90 days in a nursing home prior to receiving these services.

The investigation stems from an Aug. 13 letter to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division from the Utah advocacy group the Disability Rights Action Committee. According to the letter, more than 2,000 individuals are currently on the state’s waiting list for home and community based services. This list has grown 37 percent since 2000, the year after the Supreme Court ruled in its “Olmstead” decision that states are required to provide services to people with disabilities in the least segregated setting possible.

“No goals or specific plans were ever made to ensure that individuals who were waiting for services could avoid unnecessary institutionalization,” the letter states.

The Disability Rights Action Committee charges that the policy of requiring individuals to spend time in the nursing home is an act of unnecessary institutionalization.

The average wait time on the list is three to four years. It has been frozen for two years, as the state has made significant budget cuts to its Division of Services for People with Disabilities.

According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Justice Department made a request on Dec. 3 for the names of people waiting for care in their homes and communities dating back to 2005.