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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 18, 2015LEARN MORE
Media Contact:
Tony Anderson
Executive Director,
The Arc of California
(916) 552-6619,
tony@thearcca.org

Chad Carlock,  

Law Offices of Chad Carlock,  

(530) 750-3000,  

chad@carlocklaw.com

 

Federal Judge Rules California Illegally Cut Program Funding  
For People with Developmental Disabilities
 
Court Decision a Victory for Californians with Disabilities, their Families and Providers

(Sacramento, CA) - United States Chief District Court Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. has ruled against the State of California in a federal lawsuit, declaring on Friday, February 13, 2015 that the State illegally cut funding for programs for people with developmental disabilities. Advocates for Californians with developmental disabilities originally filed the lawsuit in 2011 against the State of California, alleging the State violated federal law by failing to adequately fund services needed by individuals with developmental disabilities.

 

The case illustrates how the State has abandoned people with developmental disabilities and exposed them to health and safety risks by failing to provide adequate support services. Over a decade of rate freezes, program closures and budget cuts have destroyed many community-based services and left many other providers on the brink of insolvency, placing Californians with developmental disabilities at serious risk.

 

"The ruling is a milestone victory," said Tony Anderson, Executive Director of the Arc of California. "We are grateful we won a court decision that will protect people with developmental disabilities, their families, and the service providers that support them from arbitrary and excessive cuts by the State of California. Tens of millions of dollars that was being withheld by the State each year will now go back into funding services for those who need and deserve them."

 

"It's an important step, but there is much more work ahead," Anderson continued. "We appreciate the hard work of our counsel and all of the supporters who stuck with us to reach this triumph."

 

This ruling culminates a three-year court battle The Arc of California and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of San Diego have been fighting against the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), challenging several of the cuts implemented by the State during the budget "crisis" of 2008 - 2011. After securing an important and unanimous victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in June 2014, Plaintiffs have now prevailed in the District Court.

 

The suit outlined how California's failure to fund programs has devastated community service providers, whose reimbursement rates have remained essentially frozen since 2003. Many community providers have been forced to limit services or close completely. In some cases, staffing levels are dangerously low and staff turnover high, jeopardizing the availability and quality of care.


Specifically, the federal lawsuit challenged three cuts: a 4.25% reduction to payments for all service providers; the creation of half-day billing rules for day program and other providers; and the imposition of a 14-day mandatory holiday schedule for which providers would not be reimbursed. The percentage reduction ended in June 2013, due in part to the pending lawsuit.

 

Judge England's decision granting summary judgment to the Plaintiffs has permanently enjoined the two remaining cuts. Finding the half-day billing rule and the mandatory holiday schedule were "invalid," the Court has ruled that these cuts can no longer be implemented. Though there is no legal mechanism for service providers to recover lost funds, providers statewide will benefit from the tens of millions of dollars annually that the State has been improperly withholding.

 

This crisis was predicted by the State's own experts more than a decade ago, when a report prepared by the Department of Developmental Services warned the State that its lack of reasonable funding would adversely affect tens of thousands of disabled individuals and place them at risk of harm.  But State funding has been static ever since, increasing only as caseloads have increased.

 

In challenging the three budget cuts at issue in the suit, The Arc California and UCP of San Diego alleged that the State had violated federal law, specifically the Federal Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver program, by reducing rates and reimbursements without federal approval, and without considering the impacts of those cuts on federally required safeguards.

 

The suit also accuses the State of violating California's landmark Lanterman Act, which was signed by former Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1969. That groundbreaking statute guarantees individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities the right to obtain the support services necessary to live as independently as possible in their own communities. Prior to the Lanterman Act, people with developmental disabilities were confined to state-run institutions, where they were warehoused in overcrowded facilities far from their families.

 

In harmony with the Ninth Circuit's ruling last summer, the District Court also ruled that any future cuts to the developmental disabilities system must comply with the requirements of the Federal Medicaid Act, and that federal approval of any cuts must be granted before the cuts can be implemented.

 

The District Court's ruling was based solely on the Federal HCBS waiver claims, and the Court has not yet reached the other Federal claims or the Lanterman Act issues, which are still pending.

About The Arc:

The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.  The Arc serves all ages and all spectrums from autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and various other developmental disabilities.

 

About UCP:

United Cerebral Palsy Association is a non-profit 501 c (3) corporation and has provided programs and services to individuals with disabilities since 1958. Over 65% of the people served have disabilities other than cerebral palsy.

© Copyright 2015 The Arc California. All rights reserved.

Medicaid Providers Win 3-Year Battle With State

Court House News Service Tuesday February 17, 2015

By ELIZABETH WARMERDAM 

SACRAMENTO (CN) - A federal judge on Friday barred California from reducing payments for certain Medicaid services for developmentally disabled Californians.  Medicaid providers will not have to comply with a policy forcing them to bill for only half a day when they work for less than 65 percent of the workday.  They also will be relieved of the "uniform holiday schedule" that forces them to take off 14 unpaid days a year, U.S. District Judge Morrison England ruled.  

The Arc of California and the United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego have spent more than three years fighting funding cuts and restrictions for services provided to developmentally disabled people under the federally funded Medicaid program.  Last year, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit remanded the case and ruled that England had improperly dismissed the nonprofit organizations' claims under the Medicaid Act.  "California did nothing whatever to study the likely effect of its uniform holiday schedule or half-day billing rule on the 'efficiency, economy, and quality of care' or the availability of service providers, before enacting and implementing those rules," 9th Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for the court.

In Friday's ruling, England found that two bills enacted by the Legislature violated the Medicaid Act.  One of the bills calls for 14 unpaid holidays every year for which vendors are not reimbursed for many services. The other half-day billing rule prevents regional centers from being reimbursed for a full day of service if a client should leave early for any reason, even of the providers have to maintain a full day slot for that person.  Based on the 9th Circuit's finding that a state must get approval before implementing any policies that affect the payments service providers receive under its plan, England found that California's two payment reductions cannot be enforced.  "Since it is undisputed that no such approval was obtained (a fact both noted in the 9th Circuit opinion and expressly conceded by defendants as undisputed herein), the 9th Circuit's holding makes it plain that the state's rules enacting the half-day billing rule and uniform holiday schedule are invalid," England wrote.  He permanently enjoined the state from implementing the two laws and from making any changes to payments without complying with the Medicaid Act and receiving approval from the Center for Medicaid Services. 

Non-profit suing state over funding cuts for disabled
KGET 17 Bakersfield September 29, 2011
Frances Garcia has worked at BARC for 15 years.  "BARC is like my new home." Garcia said. "This is what I do. This is where I come every morning."  Garcia is one of BARC's 450 clients who work for the organization that supports people with disabilities. But state budget cuts are threatening to take away funding, and BARC's parent corporation, The Arc of California is suing the state.  "What the state is doing is illegal, immoral, and dangerous to the clients," Dave Kyle, BARC Chief Compliance Officer, said. "The most important thing is the cost to the taxpayers is going to be more in the long-run if we have to take them and put them back in institutions."  BARC said it costs $32,000 a year to provide services to each client in the community, but it costs $340,000 annually to house them in institutions.
 
 The Downey Patriot
Arc sues state, says budget cuts put people at risk
SACRAMENTO –… Health advocates say the crisis was predicted by the state's own experts more than a decade ago, when a report by the Department of Developmental Services warned the state that its lack of reasonable funding would adversely affect tens of thousands of disabled residents…The lawsuit accuses the state of violating federal law, specifically the Federal Home and Community Based Service Providers waiver program, by reducing rates and reimbursements without federal approval, and without considering impacts on federally required safeguards. The suit also accuses the state of violating California's Lanterman Act, which was signed by former Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1969. The statue guarantees people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the right to obtain the support services necessary to live as independently as possible in their own communities. …

Budget Cuts Could Put Developmentally Disabled 'in Danger'
California Healthline
Thursday, September 29, 2011
By David Gorn
Yesterday, The Arc of California filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fresno, saying that state officials have violated federal law by shortchanging programs for people with developmental disabilities.  The Arc, a national advocacy organization that began in 1953 as NARC -- the National Association for Retarded Children -- changed its name to The Arc in 1992. …The state says that it's following the law and that budgets simply had to be cut. "Given the size of the budget shortfall, difficult decisions are needed," Nancy Lungren of the California Department of Developmental Services said. "However, consumer health and safety remains our highest priority."  And to that end, she said, the state is actually doing right by its developmentally disabled. "California is the only state in the nation with an entitlement to services for persons with developmental disabilities," Lungren said. …   "Before they change rate payments, they first must get prior approval from federal agencies," McLaughlin said.  Tony Anderson, executive director of The Arc, said that the organization has tried to fashion a compromise with the state, but it became clear to him that the cuts and rate freezes would continue.  "We've been working with the Department of Developmental Services, but in our view, it's just gotten worse and worse, and really, now there's no alternative for us," Anderson said. "People with disabilities, their health and safety will be compromised by this. They will be in danger." … http://www.californiahealthline.org/capitol-desk/2011/9/lawsuit-says-state-violated-federal-law.aspx

 

Defienden a los discapacitados

Grupos demandan al estado para que cumpla con ayudar a los mas vulnerables

La Opinion September 30, 2011

By Yurina Melara Valiulis yurina.melara@laopinion.com  

…Erick Mercado, padre de Callum, un nino autista de 5 anos de edad, no ha logrado que su hijo reciba unas clases llamadas "analisis aplicado de comportamiento" o ABA, que ayudan a los menores con este desorden a socializar y a trabajar mejor con otras personas. "Debido a que no hay suficientes fondos, nos piden que si tenemos seguro de salud lo ocupemos. Pero hacerlo a traves del seguro significa copagos por cada clase y en algunas ocasiones no aprueban todas las horas que se necesitan", dijo Mercado.  Callum tiende a correr inexplicablemente. Las clases de ABA sirven para que la persona con este tipo de discapacidades controle su comportamiento.  "Mi hijo ha recibido ciertas clases parecidas a ABA, pero no es exactamente lo que necesita. A mi me da miedo que por no recibir estas clases, el salga corriendo de la escuela y se pierda o lo atropelle un carro", dijo el padre.  Mercado tiene comunicacion con otras familias afectadas por discapacidades mentales de desarrollo, y dijo que anecdoticamente se ha dado cuenta que son muchas las personas afectadas, ya sea porque no reciben la cantidad de horas que necesitan o porque no son aprobadas. "Como contribuyentes de California, sabemos la necesidad de reducir costos a nivel estatal, pero no podemos permitir que el estado ponga en peligro a sus ciudadanos y arriesgue sus libertades civiles basicas", asevero Tony Anderson, director ejecutivo de ARC California. "Es ilegal mutilar los servicios de ayuda basica que permiten que los californianos con discapacidades de desarrollo vivan de forma segura en sus comunidades", acoto Anderson.


Calif. sued over cuts for developmentally disabledAssociated Press September 28, 2011 11:45 AM Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday, September 28, 2011

(09-28) 11:45 PDT Sacramento, Calif. (AP) --Advocates for the developmentally disabled are suing the state, claiming it has underfunded services for some 245,000 Californians. The Arc California, an advocacy group, and United Cerebral Palsy of San Diego filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. 

 

Advocates for disabled to sue California over budget cuts

Sacramento Bee, September 28, 2011

Kevin Yamamura

California faces another budget-related lawsuit today, this time over cuts in services provided to 250,000 developmentally disabled residents.  The Arc of California and the United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego want to block a 4.25 percent cut in state reimbursement for services to people with mental or physical disabilities. The groups also want the U.S. District Court in Sacramento to prevent the state from furloughing such services 14 days a year and introducing a half-day billing definition. "The whole system is just collapsing," said Tony Anderson, executive director of The Arc of California, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that represents and serves people with developmental disabilities.

http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2011/09/advocates-for-disabled-to-sue-california-over-budget-cuts.html

 

California's budget faces new legal challenges

Los Angeles Times September 28, 2011

By Shane Goldmacher,

Education officials allege that Gov. Brown and lawmakers illegally shortchanged them by $2 billion. And disability rights groups plan to sue to block $100 million in service cuts. The suits add to the headaches facing the Capitol   Advocates for the disabled are suing over a smaller slice of the budget: a nearly $100-million cut in providers' reimbursements. Tony Anderson, executive director of the Arc California, a disability-rights group that is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said he was "fearful of the future of the system" and the litigation is necessary to preserve programs for the needy.…  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-state-budget-20110928,0,2319021.story?track=rss

 

Advocates for the disabled file lawsuit against California

Cal Coast News September 28, 2011

Advocates for Californians with developmental disabilities filed a lawsuit against the State of California Wednesday alleging the State is violating federal law by failing to adequately fund services needed by individuals with developmental disabilities.  This lawsuit asks the Court to enforce laws which require the State to provide the necessary funding to ensure adequate care. filed a lawsuit against the State of California Wednesday alleging the State is violating federal law by failing to adequately fund services needed by individuals with developmental disabilities…The suit, filed in federal court, says California’s failure to fund programs has devastated community service providers, whose reimbursement rates have been frozen since 2003.  Many community providers have been forced to limit services or close completely…The federal lawsuit accuses the State of violating federal law, specifically the Federal Home and Community Based Service Providers (HCBS) waiver program, by reducing rates and reimbursements without federal approval, and without considering impacts on federally required safeguards.  The suit also accuses the State of violating California’s landmark Lanterman Act, which was signed by former Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1969.  That groundbreaking statute guarantees individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities the right to obtain the support services necessary to live as independently as possible in their own communities. Prior to the Lanterman Act, people with developmental disabilities were confined to state-run institutions, where they were warehoused in overcrowded facilities far from their families.…  http://calcoastnews.com/2011/09/advocates-for-the-disabled-file-lawsuit-against-california/

 

Disability-Rights Advocates Plan Challenge to State Budget Cuts

California Healthline, Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A group of advocates for individuals with disabilities is planning a lawsuit to block nearly $100 million in proposed cuts to services for Californians with developmental disabilities, the Los Angeles Times reports (Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times, 9/28).  …The advocates are opposed to the proposed cuts to services for those with development disabilities. Tony Anderson -- executive director of the Arc California, a disability-rights group that is a plaintiff in the planned lawsuit -- said the lawsuit is necessary to preserve programs for those with disabilities. H. D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the state Department of Finance, declined to comment on the lawsuit because the office had not seen it… http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2011/9/28/disability-rights-advocates-plan-challenge-to-state-budget-cuts.aspx

 

This just in from The Arc California

Signal (Press Release) September 28, 2011

Advocates Sue State of California Seeking to Protect People at Risk

…The federal lawsuit accuses the State of violating federal law, specifically the Federal Home and Community Based Service Providers (HCBS) waiver program, by reducing rates and reimbursements without federal approval, and without considering impacts on federally required safeguards. The suit also accuses the State of violating California's landmark Lanterman Act, which was signed by former Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1969. That groundbreaking statute guarantees individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities the right to obtain the support services necessary to live as independently as possible in their own communities. Prior to the Lanterman Act, people with developmental disabilities were confined to state-run institutions, where they were warehoused in overcrowded facilities far from their families.  However, after more than a decade of funding neglect, including another $174 Million funding cut this summer, support programs that allow Californians with developmental disabilities to live in their communities are shutting down, putting many in jeopardy.  http://www.the-signal.com/section/36/article/51842/

 

Calif. sued over cuts for developmentally disabled

KFMB-SD (CBS) - San Diego, CA
News 8 at 11 AM

KFMB 9/28/2011 11:02:18 AM: ... SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Advocates for the developmentally disabled are suing the state, claiming it has underfunded services for some 245,000 Californians. The Arc California, an advocacy group, and United Cerebral Palsy of San Diego filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. http://www.cbs8.com/story/15571031/calif-sued-over-cuts-for-developmentally-disabled

 

 
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The Arc of California, 1225 8th Street, Suite 350, Sacramento, CA 95814.  Office (916) 552-6619, Fax (916) 441-3494