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South Dakota officials have known for nearly a decade that the state was over-reliant on its use of nursing homes to house patients needing long-term care.

Other states had already moved more aggressively to fund community-based and home health solutions – measures meant to keep disabled adults connected to their families and communities. A 2007 report commissioned by the state found glaring shortfalls between South Dakota and the rest of the nation when it came to community health programs.

But despite that recognition, the state didn’t move fast enough.

That’s the conclusion of a Department of Justice investigation that determined South Dakota is placing too many disabled adults in nursing homes rather than putting them in settings where they could be integrated in their communities.

The report, which was sent to Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Monday, faults the state for moving too slowly, resulting in violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits states from segregating persons with disabilities from the broader community. South Dakota’s reliance on nursing homes means that some patients who could have prospered in their homes were instead sent away from their communities to reside in a nursing home.


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