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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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