Court blocks Idaho Medicaid cuts

Tan paper cut in shape of Idaho
$16 million in Medicaid will be restored in Idaho

A federal court issued a preliminary injunction March 26 against a set of Idaho Medicaid budget cuts implemented in 2011, temporarily restoring $16 million in assistance to people with developmental disabilities.

The court also granted the request from the ACLU of Idaho for the case to proceed as a class-action lawsuit, on behalf of 3,600 residents at risk of being institutionalized due to the cuts.

“We hope that this decision is a wake-up call for the Department of Health and Welfare,” Richard Eppink, legal director of the ACLU of Idaho, said in a news release. “Our investigations show that the very same constitutional due process problems the court found in this program are found in virtually every other Idaho Department of Health and Welfare program. Those will be the next lawsuits.”

The ACLU of Idaho filed a lawsuit in 2012, arguing that the cuts placed thousands of residents, who rely on the services to live in their homes, at risk of being institutionalized. The ACLU of Idaho also accused the state of failing to adequately notify the residents of the changes in their services, or to provide a fair hearing prior to the changes, in violation of federal Medicaid law.

In granting the preliminary injunction, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho chastised the notice the state sent out to recipients, which it describes as failing to describe an individualized basis for the state’s determinations.

“Read as a whole, this notice gives participants nothing more than the general explanation that several factors may have affected their individual budgets,” the court stated. “It does not explain which combination of factors actually affected each participant’s budget on an individualized level. That lack of specificity runs afoul of due process.”