Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More Details Emerge in Kentucky Civil Rights Case

A Kentucky blog today contains more details of the federal Office of Civil Rights investigation into medicaid-related civil rights violations. This case has tremendous impact for national advocates for health reform, disability rights and senior long term care issues. The case focuses on whether Kentucky cuts in medicaid provided home support services violate the 1999 Supreme Court Olmstead Decision. The Olmstead decision determined that individuals with disabilities had a civil right to care in their homes and communities and this care was provided through medicaid. Civil cases alleging Olmstead violations for similar state directed medicaid cuts are underway in six other states: Washington, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Idaho, Tennessee and New Jersey. The Kentucky investigation has set a precedent. Meanwhile, the question arises what are these states doing with the additional American Recover Act funds that they have already received that must be dedicated to medicaid. While the GAO calls for full transparency in the disbursement of funds from ARRA, the requirement for transparency apparently stops at the state level. The states that have announced medicaid home service cuts have already received over $2.5 billion dollars that is required to be spent on Medicaid. Where has it been spent?

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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.