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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. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

  2. Being dedicated to a genre keeps it alive until the masses catch up to the "trend." Kent and Bill are keepin' it LIVE!! Thank you gentlemen..you know your JAZZ.

  3. Hemp has very little THC which is needed to kill cancer cells! Growing cannabis plants for THC inside a hemp field will not work...where is the fear? From not really knowing about Cannabis and Hemp or just not listening to the people teaching you through testimonies and packets of info over the last few years! Wake up Hoosier law makers!

  4. If our State Government would sue for their rights to grow HEMP like Kentucky did we would not have these issues. AND for your INFORMATION many medical items are also made from HEMP. FOOD, FUEL,FIBER,TEXTILES and MEDICINE are all uses for this plant. South Bend was built on Hemp. Our states antiquated fear of cannabis is embarrassing on the world stage. We really need to lead the way rather than follow. Some day.. we will have freedom in Indiana. And I for one will continue to educate the good folks of this state to the beauty and wonder of this magnificent plant.

  5. Put aside all the marijuana concerns, we are talking about food and fiber uses here. The federal impediments to hemp cultivation are totally ridiculous. Preposterous. Biggest hemp cultivators are China and Europe. We get most of ours from Canada. Hemp is as versatile as any crop ever including corn and soy. It's good the governor laid the way for this, regrettable the buffoons in DC stand in the way. A statutory relic of the failed "war on drugs"

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