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DCS seeks stay on rate-cut injunction

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

The Department of Child Services wants a federal judge to stay the preliminary injunction preventing it from cut ting reimbursement rates, arguing the results of the injunction will be detrimental to children receiving services.

The attorney general on March 5 filed a brief on behalf of DCS, asking U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker to hold off on enforcing the injunction granted in January pending the outcome of the DCS appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. That injunction in the combined case of C.H., et al., v. James W. Payne, et al., No. 1:09-CV-1574, blocked the state agency's 2010 rate cuts to residential child-care agencies and parents of foster and adoptive children.

DCS argues that it's likely to succeed in the 7th Circuit on the merits, and the agency would be irreparably harmed if it's required to make payments that are later determined not to be required by Title IV-E. The agency also claims the stay won't substantially injure the other parties, and that it's in the public's interest. DCS claims that the court has effectively replaced the agency and director James Payne as the administrator of child services programs in the state by directing the allocation of resources available for services. The agency is in the best position and is best qualified to administer the state's child welfare system to the maximum benefit of Indiana's children, according to the brief.

This rate issue came up in legislation and would have required the DCS to adopt rules about their yearly reimbursement rates, but a conference committee stripped that language from SB 149 in part because of this ongoing litigation. In the end, the legislature failed to act on the measure at all before adjourning March 13.

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