M.J. v The District of Columbia
This class action was filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on behalf of all Medicaid-eligible District of Columbia children who have a mental health disability and are not receiving medically necessary intensive community-based services as required by federal law. The suit alleges the failure to provide these services puts these children at risk of unnecessary institutionalization. The complaint seeks a federal court order for the District to end its policies and practices that violate the ADA and the Medicaid Act.
Under Title II of the ADA, “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participating in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” Title II of the ADA further prohibits unnecessary institutionalization, and requires public entities to administer services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.
The District of Columbia is discriminating against the Plaintiffs on the basis of disability by failing to provide them services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, as required by federal law. If they receive intensive community-based services and other appropriate services, virtually all children with mental health disabilities can live in their own homes, or with a foster or other family, and succeed in school and participate in community life with their non-disabled peers.
By failing to provide Intensive Community Based Services the District’s condemns these children to suffer drastically curtailed life opportunities, cycling in and out of psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric residential treatment facilities that are often hundreds or thousands of miles away from their families, other residential treatment centers, juvenile detention facilities, and group homes. The District’s failure to follow federal law places intense stress on these children’s families and communities and dramatically underserves the children, preventing them from achieving their potential and from being able to function productively in their communities. They fall behind and drop out of school, may experience court involvement and incarceration, and become unable to find and maintain employment as adults.