Oregon Judge Reverses Cuts to In-Home Care Services

Chalkboard with drawings that represent the idea of inclusion, exclusion, integration and separation

by Andy Jones
May 2, 2017

A federal judge on April 19 granted a request for a preliminary injunction [PDF] from Disability Rights Oregon, resetting hours for in-home care services recently cut by the state’s Medicaid agency for thousands of people with disabilities.

“This order is a positive first step toward ensuring that people with disabilities are able to live in the community where they want to be,” said Tom Stenson, litigation attorney with Disability Rights Oregon, in a news release [PDF]. “We’re hopeful that we can work with (the Oregon Department of Health Services) to build on this initial progress toward fixing how they determine home care benefits.

“Home care services make it possible for thousands of Oregonians with disabilities to live in the community with their loved ones. Our goal is to ensure that those people receive the supports they need.”

In late 2016, the state instituted across the board cuts for people receiving Medicaid-funded in-home services, amounting to a roughly 30 percent reduction in hours, according to a DRO fact sheet [PDF].

On April 10, DRO filed a motion for a preliminary injunction [PDF] with the U.S. District Court of Oregon, contending that the cuts violated the Due Process Clause, the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal Medicaid law.

In particular, DRO alleged that the state made the cuts without adequately notifying recipients or providing them any meaningful way to challenge the state’s decisions. Furthermore, DRO argued that the state implemented the cuts using a “secret formula,” with “opaque exceptions” and no individualized basis for the cuts.

As such, DRO argued that the cuts place many of these individuals at risk of being institutionalized, contrary to the ADA’s mandate for states to provide services so people with disabilities can live in integrated, non-segregated, settings.

Under the order, which is only temporary while litigation continues, hours for all recipients affected by the cuts must be restored, at the latest, by May 15.

Disability Rights Oregon and Disability Rights Washington are the designated protection and advocacy agencies in Oregon and Washington, respectively, and are members of the National Disability Rights Network.