Lawsuit targets new Indiana Medicaid regulations

Karla Steimel, 27, currently receives 160 hours per month in home-health services through Indiana’s Aged and Disabled Medicaid Waiver Program. Her provider assists her with a variety of daily tasks – such as transferring, bathing, toileting, preparing meals and running errands – that allow her to live in her community.

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In 2012, however, the Indiana Family Social and Social Services Administration determined that recipients of the A&D waiver would no longer be eligible unless they required so-called “skilled medical needs,” such as suctioning, ventiliation or medication administration.

As a result, Steimel will soon be forced to switch to the new Indiana Family Support Medicaid Waiver, which will provide her a mere 40 hours per week of services, likely forcing her to transfer to an institutional setting. Steimel had no opportunity to appeal the changes to her services.

On June 14, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a class action lawsuit against the Indiana Family Social and Social Services Administration, alleging that the new regulations violate federal disability law.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires that states provide services to individuals with disabilities in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their needs,” said Gavin Rose, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Indiana, in a news release. “Right now, Indiana is not living up to that mandate.”

If certified as a class-action, the ACLU’s lawsuit will represent all individuals no longer eligible for the A&D Waiver services. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The lawsuit also seeks to represent individuals no longer eligible for services under Indiana’s Community Integration and Habilitation Medicaid Waiver, which was also changed in 2012. When Steimel turned 18, she applied for services through this program as well, but had remained on the waiting list ever since.

In 2012, the state of Indiana eliminated the waiting list for the CIH waiver, which ran for longer than ten years due to the program’s enrollment cap. In place of the waiting list, the state created a new “specific emergency priority criteria,” to reduce the waiting list. Steimel did not qualify.

Similar to the change with the A&D Waiver, the ACLU argues that this change violates the ADA’s integration mandate, which prohibits the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities.

The lawsuit also argues that the state violates federal Medicaid law by failing to provide recipient an opportunity to appeal changes to their services.

The class-action may represent more than ten thousands individuals.