Class action lawsuit challenges Maine’s Medicaid program

A new lawsuit on behalf of 18 people with disabilities, filed in a Maine state court January 28, accuses the state of violating federal Medicaid law by failing to provide enough funding to cover required services.

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Under its federally approved plan, the state is required to fund roughly 4,300 slots for services for people with intellectual disabilities. The state allegedly has refused or failed to provide funding for 277 of these slots.

The lawsuit, filed in Kennebec County Superior Court, seeks a court order requiring the state to provide the additional funding.

“You cannot have approved slots and then not fund them and fill them,” Gerald Petruccelli, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the Bangor Press Herald. “I’m assuming the court will do what it’s supposed to do and the state will comply.”

More than 1,000 people with intellectual disabilities are on the state’s waiting list.

Many of these individuals have been deemed “priority one” by the state, meaning they are at an “immediate risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation,” according to an article in the Maine Sun Journal. Some of the plaintiffs have been on the waiting list since 2008.

“They do need awake care round the clock, many of them,” Petruccelli told the Sun Journal. “Many of them have self-injurious behaviors that need to be monitored and prevented. Many of them are simply incapable of dealing with some of the ordinary tasks of daily life without help.”