The U.S. Justice Department says it has opened an investigation into whether Missouri unnecessarily institutionalizes adults with serious mental illness in skilled nursing homes. A press release says the department will investigate whether these individuals could be served in the community with services such as supported housing, assertive community treatment, crisis services and peer support services.

U.S. Justice Department investigates Missouri’s use of skilled nursing homes

“People with disabilities have too often been unlawfully isolated in institutions and stripped of their autonomy,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to defend the rights of individuals with mental health disabilities to access the community-based services they need and to participate fully in community life.”

The Justice Department says prior to the announcement, it informed state officials of the investigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Rachel Plaggenberg, with the Missouri Department of Mental Health, tells Missourinet it was made aware of the investigation Wednesday morning and plans to cooperate fully. Lisa Cox, with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says the agency also received notice today about the investigation and “will work with the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure Missourians receive the proper services int he most appropriate environments.”

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