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Judge approves proposed settlement agreement

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A federal judge has approved a proposed settlement agreement in a class-action lawsuit against the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration alleging that an agency policy that doesn’t allow certain Medicaid waiver enrollees to apply for services other than what’s been approved by their case manager is in violation of federal Medicaid law.

Bernis Boatman, by her daughter Diana Wilbur, filed the original action in February 2010 against the then-FSSA Secretary Anne Waltermann Murphy, and the directors of the Division of Aging and Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning, after their case manager did not submit a request for additional services to the Division of Aging. Boatman was enrolled in the Aged & Disabled Waiver Program, and was approved to receive certain services each week or month. When her daughter, who was her primary caretaker, became ill and unable to care for her mother as she had before, the pair asked for additional services from their case manager.

There is no mechanism for someone to request additional services beyond what they had already been approved for, and their class-action suit claimed they were unable to apply for these services because of FSSA policy. The class consists of anyone who is enrolled or will be enrolled in the ADW program operated by FSSA. The FSSA operates five Medicaid waiver programs approved by the federal government, including the ADW program. The Department of Health and Human Services may waive certain requirements of the Medicaid program for states that include as “medical assistance” home and community-based services that are provided to someone, who but for such services, would require the level of care provided in a hospital, nursing facility, or intermediate care facility for the mentally disabled.

The parties stipulated and agreed to enter into a settlement agreement in March 2011. Under the terms of the settlement, when case managers create waiver enrollees’ proposed cost comparison budget and plan of care to submit to the FSSA for approval, case managers must submit a request for services for whatever amount and type of service each waiver enrollee desires. Case managers will be trained that they are now required to submit these requests to FSSA, and if for some reason, the case manager refuses or does not submit the request for services, the waiver enrollee may contact FSSA directly.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in the Southern District of Indiana approved the proposed settlement in Edna Chadwell, et al. v. Michael A. Gargano, et al., No. 1:10-CV-158, finding it to be fair, reasonable and an adequate resolution. The plaintiffs are receiving everything that they could obtain through a final judgment in their favor in the settlement, she wrote, and this settlement spares the continued expense of litigating the matter.

The defendants, who deny all the allegations against them, also agreed to pay $16,000 in attorney fees to the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, who represented the plaintiffs. The parties have 60 days from July 21 to jointly file a status report regarding the ultimate dismissal of the case.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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