Georgia and the federal government have a few spats going on right now. We’ve already watched as leaders stepped in to defend transphobia, and refused Medicaid expansion, a common-sense economic development proposal.
Unfortunately, these aren’t the only areas in which Georgia is showing a blatant disregard for the well-being of some of its citizens.
The state has been in ongoing negotiations with the Dept. of Justice over its treatment of Georgians with developmental disabilities.
Earlier this year, Georgia earned the ire of the DOJ for failing to comply with an agreement to ensure proper care of folks with developmental disabilities, in part by moving them out of psychiatric hospitals and into community care settings.
Since the original 2010 agreement, 79 of the 503 developmentally disabled people discharged from state-run hospitals have died, with reports bringing to light concerns about folks being able to receive timely care.
A consultant for the DOJ, Nancy Ray, told the courts, “There are fundamental flaws with Georgia’s community service system for individuals with [developmental disabilities] that place these individuals at significant risk of harm.”
The DOJ came down on the state, for a myriad of failures that put Georgians who are under the state’s care at increased risk for harm.
“The state has failed to assemble professionals with expertise who can assess an individual’s needs and connect the individual to services in a timely manner, and the failure to do so has placed persons at risk of serious and preventable harm,’’ DOJ attorneys argued earlier this year.
Last week, Georgia and the DOJ reached a new agreement. Georgia must move eligible folks out of state-run hospitals and into community care settings. They also must commit to properly monitoring the health and wellness of people under their care, and make sure that once discharged, folks with developmental disabilities continue to receive appropriate support.
Gov. Nathan Deal offered these meaninglessly shallow words about the new agreement:
“This agreement is a significant accomplishment for the state of Georgia. Over the last six years, Georgia has invested tremendous resources in improving services for people with behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disability needs. I am proud of the work we are doing, and I look forward to our continued progress in this area.”
Yes, Georgia came around, kicking and screaming. Georgia attorney’s argued earlier this year that they had fundamental disagreements with the DOJ’s request that they not put folks with developmental disabilities “at risk of serious and preventable harm.”
The federal government shouldn’t have to force Georgia to care about the quality of life of all its citizens, especially its most vulnerable.