Sunday, June 6, 2010

Washington Post reports increased activity by DOJ Civil Rights Division

An article in the June 4, 2010 Washington Post reported on the vast change that has occurred in the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

While mention is made of several different avenues that DOJ is currently investigating, the story omitted mention of the five states where DOJ has actively intervened on behalf of people with disabilities since December.

The following is the comment I posted in response to The Post's article:

disabilitymom wrote:
The disability community has seen a significant increase in the Division's attention to ADA issues. DOJ has intervened directly in five states since December on behalf of people with disabilities whose Medicaid home services are being cut below the level of medical necessity.

OCR at DHHS has opened two investigations in Hawaii into whether cuts in Medicaid home services violated the civil rights of two little girls (one of them mine).

The Division's Criminal Investigation unit has been looking into deaths from lack of care by Hawaii Medicaid providers UnitedHealth and Wellcare. Hawaii has seen a 36% increase in deaths among the elderly and disabled tied to lack of care issues in the first year since they entered this market.

This story links to the attention being paid to the fact that states are cutting Medicaid budgets to the disabled community because that's where they get the biggest bang for their buck.

One of the holdovers from the Bush era has been the privatization of Medicaid. Social and medical services that enable disabled children, adults and elderly to live with their families instead of in institutions are being put in the corporate hands of insurance companies like UnitedHealth, WellPoint, and Wellcare.

UnitedHealth and Wellcare together are taking home about $15 million a month from the Hawaii Medicaid program. Sixty-seven percent of that is federal money.

Nobody would ever propose putting Wall Street bankers in charge of our schools; why would anybody put disability services into the hands of companies that treat billions of dollars in fines as a cost of doing business?
6/5/2010 3:35:05 PM

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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.