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ACLU of Indiana files class-action lawsuit against FSSA for changes to Medicaid waiver programs

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The ACLU of Indiana has slapped the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration with a class-action lawsuit over the way the state agency operates two of its Medicaid waiver programs.

Filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, the lawsuit alleges that policy changes made in late 2012 and early 2013 to two Medicaid wavier programs have put Hoosiers at “grave risk of immediate and irreparable harm in the community.”

The two programs are the Community Integration and Habilitation Waiver and the Aged and Disabled Waiver.

These programs, according to the ACLU of Indiana, serve thousand of Hoosiers, offering services that enable them to live in their community even though their disabling conditions would otherwise require that they be institutionalized.

The lawsuit, Karla Steimel, et. al. v. Debra Minott, et. al., 1:13-CV-957-JMS-MJD, alleges the agency’s policies violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires that the state provide services to individuals with disabilities in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their needs,” said ACLU of Indiana staff attorney Gavin Rose. “Right now, Indiana is not living up to that mandate.”

As part of the policy changes, the FSSA eliminated entirely a waiting list for the CIH Waiver. It instead moved to determining that only individuals who meet certain “priority criteria” may receive placement on that waiver.

Historically, the FSSA has maintained a waiting list for the CIH Waiver which often delayed services for needy individuals for 10 to 15 years. Under the new rules, the ACLU of Indiana asserts, many people who once would have been eligible to receive services through the program can never become eligible.

Also, the agency recently decided that individuals with developmental disabilities who do not required skilled nursing services, such as assistance with a ventilator or medication administration, may no longer received services through the A&D Waiver.    

The lead plaintiff in the case, Karla Steimel brings this action on her own behalf and on behalf of three classes of those similarly situated.  

Steimel is a 27-year-old Knox County resident who has cerebral palsy along with physical disabilities. She lives by herself in the community but requires complete assistance for daily activities like bathing, preparing meals and running errands.

She has been on the waiting list for the CIH Waiver for at least 12 years but she was removed around Sept. 1, 2012.

Through the A&D Waiver, Steimel receives about 160 hours each month of attendant care services. This includes transportation to the Knox County ARC where she is employed and receives employment-related services five days a week.

The suit requests the court issue a preliminary injunction, later to be made permanent, requiring the FSSA to re-instate the waiting list for placement on the CIH Waiver, eliminate any requirement that individuals meet the agency’s priority criteria to be placed on the waiting list and provide sufficient slots through this waiver for the waiting list to move at a reasonable pace.

Also, the suit requests a preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to continue providing services through the A&D Waiver.

 

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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