After a more than 18-month investigation, the U.S. Justice Department says Missouri has broken federal law by unnecessarily putting adults with mental illness in nursing homes. Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clark said there’s “reasonable cause” to believe that Missouri is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Nearly half of these nursing facility residents are under the age of 65 and most require little or no assistance with basic physical activities and simply don’t need skilled nursing care,” she said. “In some facilities, over 80% of the residents have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia diagnoses.”

Clark said Missouri should instead be putting these patients in community-based services.

“The state can build up its community-based services so that there are real options for people to remain in the community with support. Supported decision making allows a person with a disability to keep their rights and make their own decisions with the support of people they trust,” said Clark. “They do not want to live in nursing facilities and proven community- based services, like assertive community treatment, and permanent supportive housing could meet their needs.”

The state Department of Mental Health said it is reviewing the report.

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