Monday, May 10, 2010

Arkansas becomes eighth state where feds intervene over Medicaid service cuts

On May 6, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit "alleging that the state of Arkansas is systemically violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)."

This brings now to eight the number of states I've been able to identify where federal authorities have had to intervene directly to stop violations of the civil rights of Americans with disabilities.   All the violations are in conjunction with state Medicaid cuts in the type of home medical services that enable children as well as adults with disabilities to live at home rather than in institutions.

In February, Hawaii became the seventh state when the DHHS Office for Civil Rights opened two separate investigations into whether Hawaii Medicaid cuts were violating the ADA.  The state has been in discussions with CMS since last July over these same cuts.

How many states does it take before the DOJ steps in nationwide to stop these abuses?  I reported back in February that lawsuits alleging similar civil rights violations had been filed, heard or decided in at least seventeen states in the previous year.

Moreover, how long was the Justice Department investigating the state of Arkansas?  Was any moratorium placed on Medicaid decision-making that could have violated the rights of Arkansas individuals with disabilities while the investigation was going on?  What if children and adults with disabilities are dying while these investigations are going on, not just in Arkansas, but also in Hawaii and the other sixteen states?

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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.