Temporary freeze to home care cuts

Update: April 19, 2017: Today, Disability Rights Oregon and the Oregon Department of Human Services agreed to a temporary freeze to ongoing cuts to in-home care services, while the parties try to create a long-term plan for assessing needs and providing fair notice to people with disabilities of changes to their services.

This order is not a final fix, but it will allow services to remain in place as the case continues.

A group of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS). They claim that the state agency arbitrarily cut the number of in-home care hours that they rely on to meet their basic medical and social needs.

In-Home Care Services

People with disabilities who have substantial needs can receive in-home care assistance from personal services workers for a wide array of activities of daily living, including help with eating, food preparation, toileting, communication, behavioral assistance, medication administration, and bathing.

Nearly 8,000 adults and more than 3,000 children in Oregon accessed in-home care services between 2015 and 2017. The services are primarily funded by federal Medicaid dollars through Oregon’s Office of Developmental Disabilities, a division of DHS, and its contractors.

DHS’s Arbitrary Cuts

Last September, without explanation, DHS implemented across-the-board reductions to in-home care services, eliminating hundreds of hours of critical supports.

Lawsuit

On April 10, Disability Rights Oregon filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court. We argued, on behalf of our clients, that the benefit cuts conflict with a fundamental principle of the Americans with Disabilities Act: People with disabilities who can live in and mix with the community should not be not unnecessarily isolated.

Relief Sought

The plaintiffs are asking the federal court to direct DHS to restore previous in-home care hours, change their assessment tool, and alter the process for providing notice of benefit changes to people with disabilities and their families. Plaintiffs also want DHS make the appeals process more meaningful.

People Impacted

The plaintiffs, several adults and one child, reside in Clackamas County, Harney County, Douglas County, and East Portland. These far-reaching cuts impact nearly every person in Oregon with intellectual or developmental disabilities who rely on in-home care.

Resources: Preliminary Injunction
FAQ: Preliminary injunction

Order for preliminary injunction-April 19 2017
Motion for preliminary injunction
Release-People with developmental disabilities win temporary freeze to service cuts

Additional Resources
FAQ-Analysis of Legal Issues
Complaint – odds class action
Motion for class certification
DHS cuts to in-home care-press release-April 11 2017

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