Lawsuit: State Withheld Medical Services to Children

Jan 19, 2018

A lawsuit against Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services claims the state illegally withholds medically necessary services from children with severe mental health disorders. The case was settled in federal court this week.

Federal Medicaid law requires intensive home- or community-based services for children who need it. A class action lawsuit filed in 2011 claims Illinois violates that law.

Robert Farley, Jr., is the attorney on the suit. He says some Illinois families are so desperate to get treatment for their children, they bring them to a psychiatric hospital -- and never come back for them.

“DCFS will then take custody of the child and then basically place the child residentially," Farley said. "So you get residential services, but then you’ve given up custody of your child, which is, you know, barbaric. You have to give up your child to get something necessary.”

Data from the state shows some 18,000 children in Illinois have severe emotional or behavioral disorders. But only about 200 receive intensive treatment.

Under the settlement, the state now has nine months to comply with federal law.