HCN News & Notes

Agreement Reached to Help Individuals in Nursing Homes Return to Community

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced a settlement in a class-action lawsuit that expands opportunities for individuals in nursing facilities, including the plaintiffs and thousands of people like them, to receive the services they need to live in their communities of choice.

The lawsuit, known as Marsters v. Healey, was originally filed in October 2022 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the Commonwealth by six individuals with disabilities living in nursing facilities who were unable to return to the community without additional support from the state. Under the proposed settlement, the state will expand funding for housing programs to assist individuals in nursing facilities who seek to return to the community, including the creation of rental vouchers specifically designated for people with disabilities who want to transition to the community, as well as the creation of new residential settings.

“This settlement is a natural next step forward as our administration expands community living options available for individuals residing in nursing facilities,” Gov. Maura Healey said. “We continue to look for opportunities to reduce disparities and inequities for older adults and individuals with disabilities and mental illness in Massachusetts.”

Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell added that “I am grateful for the hard work of my team for working with the administration and advocates to reach this settlement that will certainly empower older adults and individuals with disabilities and mental illness to receive appropriate care while living in the community, instead of in a nursing facility. We look forward to continuing to work with the Healey-Driscoll administration to ensure all people in Massachusetts can live with dignity and respect.”

The Commonwealth has also designated teams that will engage with nursing-facility residents and help them make an informed choice about opportunities to receive services in the community. Nursing-facility residents with mental illness will receive enhanced care coordination while they are in the nursing facility to ensure they receive needed specialized services so they can be discharged from the nursing facility as soon as possible. Through these initiatives, the state has committed to identifying and supporting the transition of at least 2,400 individuals from a nursing facility to the community over the next eight years.

“The Executive Office of Health and Human Services understands how important it is for people in nursing facilities who are interested in returning to their communities get the support they need to be able to do so,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh said. “Whether that means helping people find and access appropriate community-based care or housing opportunities, we want everyone to feel empowered in making their own most informed decision.”