Louisiana starts work to offer more services to mentally ill
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana is spending $13 million this budget year to start obeying terms of a federal legal settlement involving people with serious mental illnesses.
The five-year, court-monitored settlement with the U.S. Justice Department is aimed at resolving accusations the state illegally warehouses the mentally ill in nursing homes rather than helping them live in their communities.
Louisiana's health department has agreed to expand home- and community-based services and screen those in nursing homes to determine if they can be diverted to less-restrictive settings.
A two-year federal investigation determined Louisiana violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by its over-reliance on nursing homes to house mentally-ill people.
The health department says assessments of nursing home residents have started. A plan to explain how Louisiana will comply is due to federal officials in September.