Temporary freeze to home care cuts

Update: December 12, 2018: Today, the U.S. District Court accepted a joint update from DHS—ODDS and DRO, and ordered the parties to give another update in six months. Some key updates are:

  • The preliminary injunction, which froze cuts to in-home care services, remains in effect. In-home service hours cannot be reduced at this time.
  • ODDS has been using the new assessment tool, the Oregon Needs Assessment (ONA), since July 2018. The ONA is being used to gather information about the person which will be used to help plan services.
  • ODDS will not set hours based on the ONA yet. ODDS is currently targeting January 1, 2020 as the date when it will start using the ONA to set hours.

 Setting Service Hours

  • Once the ONA is completed and ready to be used to set service hours, people who receive services through ODDS will be divided into separate service group levels. For people who receive in-home services, an individual’s service group level will correspond to a range of support hours available to them.
  • Contractors from Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), with input from ODDS staff and stakeholders, have begun the work of developing service group levels for the ONA.
  • HSRI plans to review records in the spring of 2019 to help develop the hours range for each service group level.
  • DRO is monitoring this process.

Exceptions Process

  • Some individuals cannot meet their needs with the in-home hours allotted by the assessment tool. ODDS has had a longstanding process of getting additional hours on an exceptional basis. In the lawsuit, DRO challenged this process as being too opaque and standardless to afford individuals legally required due process.
  • With input from DRO, ODDS has also begun the process of redeveloping its exceptions process. ODDS currently plans to prepare a draft of new rules for the exceptions process around March 2019.

More Work Ahead

  • We’ll work with ODDS to ensure the new assessment tool is finalized in a way that will meet the needs of Oregonians with I/DD.
  • We’re committed to ensuring that ODDS puts in place a fair and transparent process for getting exceptional services.
  • We’ll continue to make sure that when individuals’ services change, they get fair notice.

The parties will update the court again by June 10, 2019.

Relevant documents:

Joint Status Report (December 10, 2018)

Lawsuit against DHS

In April 2017, we filed suit against the Department of Human Services after the agency implemented across-the-board cuts to in-home care services for adults and children with developmental disabilities. For some people these cuts eliminated hundreds of hours of critical supports per month.

Several days later, DHS and DRO agreed to a temporary freeze to ongoing cuts to in-home care services. We began the process creating a long-term plan for assessing needs and providing fair notice to people with disabilities of changes to their services.

Court Orders a Stay of Lawsuit

Disability Rights Oregon and the Oregon Department of Human Services requested a six-month stay of the lawsuit, which means the lawsuit will be on hold while DHS works on improving the tool. The U.S. District Court has ordered that the stay will remain in place for another six months. The parties will update the court by December 5, 2017. The preliminary injunction, which freezes support hours cuts, remains in place as well. (June 12, 2017)

Preliminary Injunction

On April 19, 2017, 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

, , , , , , , , , ,