Monday Morning News Dump!

November 20, 2017

We have added language to the CCCPlus section of the Provider Resources page about issues with enrollment, misinformation about the need for releases, etc.  Check back frequently on that page to see updates!

We also want to share the presentation about Medicaid from the recent Senate finance Retreat – it is long, detailed and cumbersome but should be “required reading” for anyone who has any connection at all to the Virginia Medicaid system!

And last – we did get word over the weekend the ACLU has filed a class action suit in the State of Oklahoma as a result of cuts in services:

“Holding up a photo of their 26-year-old son, Lance and Sherry Davis spoke about why they are among the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed Friday by the ACLU of Oklahoma in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City against two state agencies concerning cuts to disability services.

Tomas Davis functions at the level of a 7-year-old with his diagnoses of cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, epilepsy with grand mal seizures, schizophrenia and acute asthma. He requires total care, as he is unable to walk, sit or stand unassisted.

He lives in Noble and receives an in-home support waiver administered by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to provide 85 hours a week for personal care, habilitation training specialist and vocational services. The family was notified that the waiver would be eliminated on Dec. 1, and they were provided no alternatives.

Lance Davis said it would mean his wife would have to quit her job. Without her income, they could no longer pay their monthly bills.

“We’ll probably have to move out of our house because we can’t keep Tomas in his own house, in his normal environment,” Davis said. “It’s pretty upsetting because it seems like each year we go through this. We just want it to stop. We just want to live in our community and just want to have our son live in our house with us. And if we lose those services, we’ll no longer be able to do that.”

The ACLU had warned state agencies early this month of the possibility of a lawsuit if cuts to services were made in the budget. The Oklahoma Disability Law Center, a federally funded advocacy system, joined in the suit against DHS and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

The Health Care Authority administers the state’s Medicaid program, and DHS provides and manages services either directly or through contractors.

DHS let more than 20,000 recipients of the ADvantage and in-home support waivers for adults know on Oct. 31 that benefits would end Dec. 1.

On Friday evening, Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed House Bill 1019 – the state budget bill – but left intact provisions that temporarily fund DHS, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Her action also keeps the Department of Health solvent through the end of the fiscal year.

DHS spokeswoman Sheree Powell said the agency had made the notifications and cuts based on legal requirements.

“DHS didn’t want to do any of this in the first place,” Powell said. “As an agency, we were required to file a revised balanced budget which forced us to identify $69 million in reductions. Because of legal requirements, we had to give service recipients 30-day notice that their services could be ending if the Legislature did not come up with a funding solution.”

The budget measure, HB 1019, provides DHS with nearly $696 million, which means a reduction of $4 million in services instead of $69 million.

“Should this bill be signed by the governor, the agency will be able to avoid cutting all of the services which have previously been announced and we can immediately begin sending notices to clients letting them know their services are funded and will continue,” Powell said before Fallin’s action Friday night. “We certainly look forward to that day.”

ACLU of Oklahoma Legal Director Brady Henderson said the lawsuit will move forward because there is no guarantee services will return or how long it will last.

“Whether we can call this a budget, it’s a stopgap. It’s a Band-Aid on the broken leg, proverbially speaking,” Henderson said. HB 1019 “is a good emergency fix to an emergency problem, but it doesn’t deal with the long-term issue. For people who depend on ADvantage Waiver or other similar programs, this one event is in a context of years of cuts to services and decade-long wait lists.”

Plaintiffs argue that the cuts violate the Americans With Disabilities Act and U.S. Supreme Court rulings that protect the rights of people with disabilities to stay in community housing rather than be forced into institutions.

Amy Gioletti, staff attorney for the ACLU of Oklahoma, said at the heart of the lawsuit is the right to choose where to live and not be forced into institutional care.

“It’s about making sure individuals have the right to live in the integrated setting to them,” Gioletti said. “Our clients have robust lives. They provide essential community services in their communities. They are artists, and they are loving family members. So what we hope to do with this lawsuit is remind the state of its federal obligations to provide community-based living in the most integrated setting available.”

“These services are so important because it is not one-size-fits all,” Henderson said. “DHS comes in and figures out what you need. The alternative with institutionalization is a one-size-fits-all. It effectively takes you out of the community.”

Melissa Sublett, executive director of the Oklahoma Disability Law Center, said her office has been flooded with calls from people receiving services but also from those on waiting lists for services, who now worry that no help is in sight.

“We’ve had an abundance of families contacting our office in a panic over this tragic cuts in services,” Sublett said. “We’ve heard of families having to leave the state and families who are already losing their services – their attendants are quitting in anticipation of the Dec. 1 elimination of the waivers.”
The full article is avialable here:

www.tulsaworld.com/news/health/…