Sunday, June 28, 2009

Feds Investigating Kentucky medicaid home services cuts as civil rights violation

A Kentucky newspaper reported yesterday (June 27) that the US Department for Human Services Office for Civil Rights is investigating Kentucky for federal civil rights violations incurred by cutting home based medicaid services for people with disabilities. Since I started this blog five months ago, I've been able to identify five states being sued for potential Olmstead civil rights violations. I've also found and linked to news articles from eleven more states that are slashing their budgets for home and community support services through Medicaid. Now that the Federal Office for Civil Rights has made this a federal issue, the time has come for the feds to step in and take action at a national level. Sixteen states are all targeting the very weakest group in our society -- children with disabilities. The Olmstead Act gave these children, whether under 21 or as adults, the fundamental civil right to live with their families, by using medicaid to provide the home based services necessary to prevent institutionalization. It's a Federal Supreme Court decision, the laws are federal, and the Office for Civil Rights is federal. And all of these states are presumably receiving significant additional federal matching funds for their medicaid programs through Section 5001 of the American Recovery Act. According to the ARRA website, these 16 states have already received FMAP grants totaling about $2.5 billion dollars. If the federal government deems it a civil rights violation in one state, then it only follows that cutting home based services for children with disabilities is a civil rights violation in the other fourteen states. According to the Office for Civil Rights website, 62% of the 561 Olmstead Act related investigations they performed between April 2000 and May 2009 required "corrective action." I filed a complaint on behalf of my daughter with the DHS Office of Civil Rights last January, but because of the federal suit being brought against the state of Hawaii, I couldn't follow up. I'm refiling today. Maybe if we all filed emails with the Office for Civil Rights, they would take notice how widespread the problem is and put a halt to this unconscionable discrimination against our children with disabilities. Here's where the Office of Civil Rights discusses disability rights. And here's the page with information about how to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. You can do it by email, or filling out their online form. Maybe this is our chance to get this discrimination stopped once and for all.

1 comment:

  1. I am a Medicaid provider in KY and it's a sad mess. The State has just about bankrupted and put my agency out of business. We provide wonderful supports to those we serve with MR/DD. However, the State "creates" unbelievable ways to recoup our hard earned reimbursements. Thus...the state makes cuts by recouping from providers. As a result, KY is going to slowly loose many GOOD providers. And guess where the clients will end up? Back in institutions! So sad really. I can leave the business and chalk it up to failure, move on, and survive. But...what happens to the lives of those I currently serve? It doesn't work out as well for them. But the state couldn't care less!

    Thank you for your hard work!



About Me

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I'm the mom of a child with disabilities. Hannah's first neurologist said she might never develop beyond the level of a 2 month old infant, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. The brain damage was just too severe. Nine years later, she walks, uses a touchscreen computer and I've just been shown she can learn to construct sentences and do simple math with the right piece of technology. Along the way, I discovered I needed to teach myself what Hannah's rights to services really were. Learning about early intervention services led to reading about IDEA and then to EPSDT. I've been waiting for the Obama administration to realize the power and potential of EPSDT for the medical rights - including the right to stay at home with their families - of children with disabilities. The health reform people talk about long term care, and the disability people talk about education and employment, but nobody is talking about EPSDT. So I am.