Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Still more harm to the needy alleged in lawsuit

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2016 at 1:54 PM

A federal lawsuit today says the Arkansas Department of Human Services has arbitrarily cut Medicaid services for severely disabled people, which could force them into nursing homes.

The suit, brought by Legal Aid of Arkansas, is on behalf of Bradley Ledgerwood, 34, of Cash and Ethel Jacobs, 90, of West Helena. It says reductions in their services amount to violations of several federal laws and the Constitution.

They have been served by ArChoices, a Medicaid program aimed at allowing people to receive care in communities, rather than a nursing home. About 11,000 people are enrolled. They get in-home care so they can live independently. Hours of care depend on the severity of a disability.

Said Legal Aid:

Ledgerwood, who has cerebral palsy that makes him unable to use his limbs, staying in the community has allowed him to be an active member of his church, hold elected office in his hometown, and participate in several political clubs in northeast Arkansas. For Ms. Jacobs, who has advanced dementia and congestive heart failure, staying in the community means  living in the house she has been in for 15 years, receiving attention and care from a devoted son, and visiting with her older siblings.

... Despite the fact that their medical conditions have not improved, DHS arbitrarily  slashed the levels of services for Mr. Ledgerwood by 43% and Ms. Jacobs by 22%  without any explanation. These significant cuts undermine their health and safety.

The lawsuit demands accountability from DHS and affirms the rights of low-income Arkansans with disabilities to receive services in their homes when possible and to be  treated fairly by the state. 

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