Settlement finalized preserving California community services program

In the third major victory for disability rights advocates regarding California’s Medicaid services in less than a week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California gave final approval Tuesday to a settlement retaining key services for people at risk of being forced to move into institutionalized settings.

“This settlement demonstrates that even in these challenging budget times, our State has recognized the importance of maintaining this uniquely beneficial and cost-effective program,” said Morrison & Foerster partner Ken Kuwayti in a news release from Disability Rights California.

The state legislature voted in 2010 to end its Adult Day Health Care program, which provides health care, therapy, transportation and other services for more than 35,000 individuals at approximately 280 centers across the state.  Disability Rights California, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, the National Health Law Program and the AARP Foundation Litigation filed a lawsuit, arguing that the cuts force individuals to leave their homes, violating the Americans with Disabilities Acts’ integration mandate barring the segregation of people with disabilities. The Department of Justice later filed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs.

The groups reached a settlement with the state in mid-November, which allows the state to provide similar services through a new Community-Based Adult Service program. The program will not cap enrollment.

Though most current recipients will qualify for the new services, those who no longer qualify will receive enhanced case management to assist them to transition to other long-term care services.

“We are proud to be part of this settlement that guarantees that Esther Darling (the lead plaintiff in the case) and tens of thousands like her will continue to receive the critical services they need to continue to live in their own homes and communities,” said Elissa Gershon, senior attorney for Disability Rights California, in the news release.

Disability Rights California is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.