NASHVILLE, July 6 -- Tennessee's interim budget approved by legislators in late June gives nursing homes full Medicaid funding. But it cuts in-home services. Disability advocates are calling it "illegal."
At a news conference denouncing the move, Gordon Bonnyman, an attorney with the Tennessee Justice Center, and Carol Westlake, director of the Tennessee Disability Coalition, accused Tennessee lawmakers of violating the Supreme Court Olmstead decision, which requires that people receive services in the "least restrictive environment."
On Aug. 1, 50 people were to begin receiving in-home services under a new Chattanooga-based program. Instead, the 50 will stay -- or move -- into nursing homes.
Bonnyman told the Knoxville Sentinel-News that a lawsuit had been filed. The Coalition agreed with the suit, saying it was needed to ensure "alternatives to nursing homes, whether that means raising taxes or taking money out of the nursing home budget." The Tennessee Health Care Association, the state nursing home lobby, has filed a brief in the lawsuit. Trial is expected in September.
A spokesman for the lobby told reporters they "fully support" in-home services. "But we strongly disagree with the notion that funding should be taken away from the sickest patients" -- nursing-home lobby doublespeak for people confined to their nursing homes -- "to fund these other types of services."
The nursing home group says it believes the Olmstead decision merely offered "guidelines" on the desirability of alternatives to nursing home care; that it was not a mandate on states.
Read the full story from the Knoxville News Sentinel at Icanonline.net
Wisconsin efforts last month to move money from nursing homes brought howls, too.
Texas activists push state budget for in-home services
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