Missourians Sue Over Medicaid Cuts For "Optional"
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 31, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI--Because of budget cuts made during the last legislative session, 90,000 Missourians are being cut this week from the state's Medicaid program for low-income residents, seniors and people with disabilities.
Another 340,000 adults in the state-federal health care program officially lose coverage for such "optional" equipment as canes, walkers, communication devices, wheelchair seat cushions, wheelchair batteries, and mechanical lifts, along with ventilators and feeding tubes.
Seven Missouri residents filed suit in federal court Monday against the state's Department of Social Services, alleging that the cuts violate federal law, including the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
"We're bringing the lawsuit for three reasons," explained attorney Tom Kennedy. "First we want to keep people from dying. Secondly, we want to keep people in their homes as long as possible. Thirdly, we want to keep people out of nursing homes."
State officials have told those whose coverage was cut that they can apply for exceptions and appeal the decisions on a case-by-case basis. As of last Wednesday, according to information gathered by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1,048 people had filed appeals. Of the 427 appeals hearings that had been held, the patient lost in 396 -- or 92 percent -- of them.
"I know the state is in trouble moneywise, but to take it from disabled people who can't fend for themselves, that's just not the answer," said Jan Everett, one of the plaintiffs whose 21-year-old son receives five cans of nutritional formula through a feeding tube each day.
"Gathering holds "funeral" for Medicaid as cuts loom" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Lawsuit seeks to block some Medicaid cutbacks in Missouri" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
"Federal Lawsuits Filed Over Missouri Medicaid Cuts" (KSDK-TV)
"Missouri's Medicaid Shame: Feeding tubes optional" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)