A federal class action lawsuit is seeking relief for more than 19,000 Florida residents with developmental disabilities who are on a years-long waiting list for community-based services.

The suit, filed last week, alleges that thousands of individuals who are eligible for community-based services through the state’s Medicaid program are instead on a waiting list in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws.

“Plaintiffs have been placed on waiting lists for enrollment on the DD Waivers where they languish for years without services thereby placing them at risk of institutionalization and regression of skills and therapies learned from educational programs,” according to the suit filed by Disability Rights Florida, a nonprofit disability rights group that’s representing the residents.

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Some of the residents identified in the lawsuit currently live in nursing homes or other institutional facilities and as a result, will never move forward on the waiting list due to the way the state establishes priority. Others live with family members and are not likely to receive Medicaid waiver services unless their current caretaker dies, the suit alleges.

Lawyers for the residents say they want the state to provide therapy, day services, behavioral supports, residential placements and other appropriate Medicaid waiver services so that individuals with developmental disabilities can “reside in the most integrated setting possible.”

The lawsuit names Florida Gov. Rick Scott and officials from the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration and Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

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