A recent shift in the New York Department of Health’s Medicaid program has triggered a Federal class action lawsuit by traumatic brain injurysurvivors disturbed by the change. A Courthouse News Service article reported that the plaintiffs in the case are seeking an injunction against Medicaid changes that could result in many brain-injured patients being institutionalized.
The issue revolves around the Department of Health’s Home and Community Based Services Medicaid Waiver for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries. The waiver has been available to brain injured patients in New York since 1995.Â The waiver makes available Medicaid funds to assist patients in readjusting to life in their community, instead of an institution.
An amendment to the TBI Medicaid Waiver now requires service providers to be licensed as Home Care Services Agencies with the Department of Health. The Department gave the service providers one-month notice to get patients transferred to approved providers, which the plaintiffs of the case claim is not enough time.
According to the Courthouse News article, ‘The class claims say the state Department of Health is violating the Constitution and the Medicaid Act by abruptly transferring scores of ‘waiver’ participants to different service providers, without adequate notice and without ensuring that services will continue.’
Since the services providers and patients were given short notice, many fear that available State certified service providers would not be able to pick up the overload of clients quickly enough to avoid having to send patients away. Many traumatic brain injury survivors required daily assistance to perform many tasks.
Without highly specialized assistance, the plaintiffs suggested, ‘there will be unavoidable harm to those participants due to the abrupt nature of the transition, loss of familiar care givers, loss of routine, stress, anxiety, emotional outbursts, setbacks in addiction control with corresponding negative consequences, and emotional reactivity that could result in self harm to the participant or harm to others,’ Courthouse News reported.
Perlow, Jonathan. (February 2, 2010) ‘Brain Injury Patients Sue New York.’ Retrieved on February 2, 2010 from the Courthouse News Service Web site:http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/02/02/24284.htm