Some Medicaid patients who were affected by changes the Department of Human Services made recently had sued and the State’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling in their favor. At issue was that the seven people represented in the lawsuit had the hours of home care they had been receiving cut back.
Some of these petitioners claimed they were then left without any opportunity have some meals, had to remain in soiled clothing and linens for many hours, and other challenges arose as a result of this new implemented system. The petitioners are all considered disabled.
The state’s DHS switched to a computer program to determine who would be eligible to receive home care support and for how many hours they would have these services each week. The lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case argued that this effectively skirted public notice requirements and the Arkansas Supreme Court agreed.
DHS legal representatives counter-argued that the lower courts based their ruling to block this move on an assumption that lower circuit court Judge Wendell Griffen assumed the plaintiffs would win their case during trial. The Supreme Court justices disagreed and allowed the order to remain.
According to an Arkansas Online article, Justices uphold ruling on in-home care, written by John Moritz:
“According to court filings, the seven patients who sued the state saw the number of hours of care they received in a given week cut by more than 40 percent. In a phone call, De Liban said his clients had lived with their reduced care in periods ranging from a few days to a few months.
The court filings alleged that as a result of the reduced care, some clients went without food because they were not being looked after as much, and some laid in soiled clothes, missed exercises and had increased risks of falling.
Throughout the program, called ARChoices, about 47 percent of patients saw their services cut because of an evaluation by the computer program, called Resource Utilization Groups system or RUGs. Another 43 percent got more services, the state alleged in court papers, and the rest saw no change.”
The case now moves toward trial, which won’t take place until July, 2018. At that time, both sides will be able to present their facts and arguments and determine whether or not the new system was legal and if it should be implemented once again. There was no immediate comment from DHS representatives following this ruling.
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