Tuesday, October 20, 2009

California court decision stops Medicaid home service cuts

A U.S. District Court judge in California yesterday put a halt to Medicaid cuts in home and community services that were due to go into effect on November 1.
“This is a big day for people with disabilities, their families and seniors throughout the state – their right to stay safely in their homes - and not be forced into nursing homes or other institutions - has been reaffirmed by the Court,” said Paula Pearlman of the Disability Rights Legal Center.
These are the same kind of Medicaid service cuts, targeted at the same population group (the elderly and people with disabilities), that have resulted in civil rights legal actions in at least 12 other states. At least three states are under federal scrutiny as to whether states are systemically breaking federal Medicaid law and the ADA. A similar ruling took place in Tennessee earlier this year. On the other hand, a similar case brought in Hawaii was literally stymied by the District Court judge, who refused to give the plaintiffs any opportunity for appeal and left no alternative but withdrawal of the case. Medicaid deals with federal civil rights. As long as the individual states have the ability to "define" their local Medicaid programs as they see fit, with no necessary reference to the law, then there can be no equality for our elderly and medically challenged populations. It's left up to public interest law groups and exhausted parents to fight for federal civil rights on a state by state basis, as no one at the federal level seems to want to guarantee that states follow federal law.

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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.