Injunction will restore over $16 million in assistance to adults with developmental disabilities across Idaho

UPDATE 04/04/2014: Urgent Information Regarding Developmental Disabilities Service Budget Litigation - Read the memo here.
Boise, ID –The United States District Court for the District of Idaho on Tuesday allowed an ACLU of Idaho lawsuit to proceed as a class action and granted an injunction halting major cuts to Medicaid implemented in 2011. The injunction will result in restoring an estimated $16 million in assistance to adults with developmental disabilities statewide.

Richard Eppink, Legal Director of the ACLU of Idaho, noted that because the case is now a class action, the court’s decision will protect all participants in this Medicaid program. “We hope that this decision is a wake-up call for the Department of Health and Welfare,” Eppink said. “Our investigations show that the very same constitutional due process problems the court found in this program are found in virtually every other Idaho Department of Health and Welfare program. Those will be the next lawsuits,” Eppink added. The class of all participants and applicants is represented by Eppink at the ACLU of Idaho, along with Herzfeld & Piotrowski, LLP, a Boise law firm.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) has now three times argued that the information it provides about assistance cuts to Medicaid participants with developmental disabilities is constitutional. For the third time in over two years, a federal court has rejected the Department’s arguments. Judge B. Lynn Winmill in the opinion wrote, “Read as a whole, this notice gives participants nothing more than the general explanation that several factors may have affected their individual budget. It does not explain which combination of factors actually affected each participant’s budget on an individualized level. This lack of specificity runs afoul of due process…”

The injunction extends to cover all applicants and participants who go through the individual budgeting process for adults with developmental disabilities on Medicaid in Idaho. Judge Winmill cited three specific cases to illustrate the dangerous harm that the constitutional violations would probably cause if the cuts were not halted. N.R., a 46 year-old woman with an assessed functional age of 1 year and 8 months would lose her benefits to developmental therapy. Through the therapy, she was learning to accomplish tasks and communicate more effectively, leading to an increase in her functional age for the first time in years. Another plaintiff, B.B. is a 26 year-old man who requires support and supervision for everyday tasks, like feeding himself. His assistance was cut by 27 percent, jeopardizing both his health and his ability to continue working. K.S., a 34 year-old man with a functional age of 3 years and 8 months was born with severe developmental disability and Down’s Syndrome, had his assistance cut by 25 percent. This cut would reduce or even eliminate community development programs that allow him to interact with other people in his community.

For participants of Idaho’s Adult Developmental Disability Services program who undergo annual reevaluations, the court’s order means that they should be able to go back to the highest level of funding they have been eligible for since July 1, 2011. Additionally, with class certification all applicants and participants are now part of the lawsuit, K.W. v. Armstrong, which challenges policies and procedures that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare applies to participants and applicants of the Adult Developmental Disability Services program. Any person who is an applicant or participant is encouraged to visit the ACLU of Idaho’s website (www.acluidaho.org) or contact the ACLU of Idaho for more information.

 

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