Lawsuit filed to combat in-home services cuts in Tennessee

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News from Tennessee

In a move lawmakers expect will save $10 million, Tennessee recently limited one-on-one nursing services to 12 hours a day and personal assistance services to 215 hours per month for individuals receiving Medicaid-funded services so they can remain in their homes, as opposed to in institutional settings.

For 39 individuals with disabilities, all of whom would be forced to move out of their homes due to the changes, the moves go too far.

On July 11, the individuals filed a class action lawsuit against the state, alleging that with the changes, the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmstead decision, by failing to provide services to individuals with disabilities so they can live in the most integrated settings according to their needs.

“As a result of the implementation of these arbitrary limitations, named Plaintiffs will not be able to continue to receive necessary (activities of daily living) services in their family homes,” according to the complaint. “They will not be able to continue to live with family, to associate with neighbors and friends, and to participate in their community life.”

The changes, announced in June, directly affect 680 people with disabilities.

The lawsuit also rejects the state’s cost-saving argument, noting that for the individuals listed in the lawsuit, it is estimated that would cost taxpayers between $83,000 and 93,000 for them to remain in the state’s home-and community-based waiver program and between $129,000 and $147,000 to transfer to institutional setting.

The state, according to the lawsuit, also allegedly violated the individual’s constitutionally due process rights by denying services without an individualized assessment, as well as “without notice and an opportunity for a full and fair hearing” to contest the changes.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, also includes the Legal Aid Society and the National Health Law Project as plaintiffs.