"The first crack in the wall that has kept Louisianians with disabilities imprisoned in institutions," is how Advocacy Center director Lois Simpson describes the settlement of a statewide class-action lawsuit filed in April, 2000 against the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Human Services over its long waiting list for home- and community-based service.
According to the terms of the settlement, announced Aug. 30, the state of Louisiana will amend its State Medicaid Plan to include "personal care service" as a covered Medicaid service -- for a maximum of 56 hours a week of in-home support for people now in nursing homes or at "imminent risk" of going into a nursing home.
Over the next 4 years, the State will reduce the existing waiting lists so that people will wait no longer than 90 days. The group had charged that the "waiver" programs that provided the only in-home services had years-long waiting lists, and very few spaces on the list in the first place.
The settlement "potentially covers hundreds -- possibly thusands -- of the state's 27,000 nursing home residents, as well as th ose in hospitals or living at home who are 'at imminent risk' of going into nursing homes," said Stephen F. Gold, attorney for the plaintiffs.
The original story, from the July, 2000 Ragged Edge
The New-Orleans based Resources for Independent Living and five disabled individuals filed a class action suit April 11, 2000 against the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Human Services over its long waiting list for home- and community-based services.
The suit charges that the state's "requirement that Plaintiffs be confined in segregated nursing facilities in order for them to receive needed long-term care services, and its concomitant failure to provide Plaintiffs with these services in the community, violates the integration mandate of the ADA."
The state hasn't informed disabled people about getting services in their homes and in the community, says the lawsuit.
The state "violated their rights under the ADA and Section 504 by failing to provide appropriate, community-based long-term services, but instead offered only unnecessarily segregated and isolated services in nursing facilities."
Attorneys for the lawsuit is Stephen F. Gold; plaintiff is the Lafayette, LA -based Advocacy Center.
Louisiana has a home and community based services waiver for "elderly and disabled" adults, one for personal care assistance, and one for individuals with mental retardation or developmental disabilities, says the suit.
"Approximately 90 percent of Louisiana's expenditures for long-term care services go to institutional, rather than home and community-based services. Well over half of these institutional expenditures go to nursing homes. While Louisiana ranks near the bottom of all the states both in the percentage of its population that receives home and community-based waiver services, and in its per capita expenditures on such services, it ranks near the top in the percentage of its population that is institutionalized in order to receive long-term health care," the suit continues. "Louisiana's supply of nursing facility beds far outnumbers that of most states.
In 1998, Louisiana had 34,400 Medicaid recipients living in nursing homes. In contrast, less than 1,000 Medicaid recipients in Louisiana received home and community-based services under its Elderly and Disabled Adult and Personal Care Attendant waivers." See Bed Money
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