Judge Halts Planned Cuts in Medicaid Program

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(Host) A Superior Court judge has halted planned cuts in a Medicaid program that provides home care for elderly and disabled people.

Judge Matthew Katz ruled that the cuts couldn’t go through unless the state first provided public notice and then submitted the changes to the Legislature for review.

Patrick Flood is commissioner of the Department of Aging and Independent Living. He says the state may now have to freeze enrollment in the program.

(Flood) “Because we still have a budget deficit in this program, we’re going to have to stop admissions to this program, ’cause that’s the only other way we can contain the costs. And I think that’s really unfortunate.”

(Host) The state wanted to save about 2 million dollars by reducing assistance for housekeeping, laundry, shopping and transportation. About eighteen-hundred people are in the program. Bill Dysart, a Legal Aid lawyer, filed the class action suit on their behalf. He says this legal battle is a taste of the potential conflicts to come.

That’s because the Douglas Administration has considered transforming Medicaid from an entitlement program to a block grant that could give officials much more discretion about who gets benefits.

(Dysart) “It puts this issue that is presented in our case for the Home and Community based waiver recipients very much in the forefront of what might be the trend of things to come, in terms of recreating and redesigning how services are delivered in the Medicaid program.”

(Host) Dysart says the state may not be able to freeze enrollment in the program without first notifying the public and getting approval from the Legislature.

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