Colorado Medicaid Agency Takes Money Away From Medicaid Clients & Denies Due Process Rights to Coloradans With Disabilities
On December 23, 2009, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (“CCDC”) filed a class action lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (“Department”) in the Denver District Court of Colorado requesting that the Court order the State to retract the cuts in the amounts Medicaid clients are entitled to receive to pay for in-home attendant until it is able to implement the cuts without violating the due process rights of Colorado residents with disabilities. See attached complaint.
This lawsuit is the second lawsuit filed this week by the CCDC against the Department recently. The other recent lawsuit, filed December 18, alleges the Department failed to insure payment for needed Medicaid services for an individual with multiple disabilities who needs additional in-home services after having a tracheotomy performed and being discharged from the hospital.
The present case alleges the Department is taking money away from Medicaid clients for needed services without giving them notice and an opportunity to appeal the decision in violation of longstanding Supreme Court rulings and federal law regarding due process rights under the United States Constitution.
Since the Consumer Directed Attendant Support Services (“CDASS”) program was implemented in 2003, approximately 1,000 Colorado residents with disabilities have enjoyed the ability to manage their own in-home attendant care to assist with activities of daily living. They are responsible for such administrative tasks as interviewing, hiring, training, supervising, and sometimes firing the attendants of their choosing.
In addition to giving people with disabilities control over their own attendant care, the CDASS program was implemented to save the State money by eliminating the payments to home health care agencies for the administrative tasks that many Medicaid clients are more than capable of performing themselves. The State, in conjunction with the Medicaid client, determines the allotted amount of Medicaid funds each CDASS client can use towards their in-home attendant care.
In September, 2009, according to the Department, due to State budget cuts, CDASS clients’ allocations were reduced by 1.5%. However, many clients did not receive any notice of this reduction until six weeks later in mid-October, and some received no notice at all. For some CDASS clients, any reduction they have available to pay for attendant services means they must forego those needed services. Clients were terrified to learn suddenly that they may have gone over budget paying their attendants. County case workers can impose consequences on clients who over budget that can endanger a person’s independence within the CDASS program. Over-budgeting can mean they are kicked off the program altogether.
In the first week of December, 2009, CDASS clients received another letter informing them that their allocations were once again being cut, this time by 1%. Again, some clients received no notice of this change at all. Those who did receive a letter became very concerned when looking at the numbers stated in the correspondence. Although the letters stated they would see a 1% decrease, their new allocations reflected a much different scenario. From what CCDC has learned so far, clients received reductions anywhere from 2.14% to 4.06% (and possibly more) with no explanation of the mathematic inaccuracies, except that some unknown amount of their funding was taken away to pay a new fiscal intermediary service the Department hired, starting December 1, 2009. This company is Public Partnerships LLC Colorado (“PPL Colorado”).
Many clients are already using every last cent of their monthly allocations, carefully scheduling attendants down to the minute, while minding their responsibility to avoid going over their allocation budget. It is nearly impossible for CDASS clients to effectively schedule their attendant care without any idea as to the financial limitations to which they are expected to adhere.
The additional, unexplained inconsistent reductions in allocations can only be explained as the payment to PPL Colorado The Department told clients the change to the new company would have “no affect” on allocations.
The Due Process clause of the United States Constitution, federal and Colorado law require that Medicaid clients receive advanced notice and an explanation of their right to appeal these allocation reductions. By not doing so, the State is violating the due process rights of Colorado residents with disabilities.
CCDC is Colorado’s only statewide disability rights advocacy organization. CCDC’s mission and purpose include preventing discrimination against people with disabilities, including the forced institutionalization of individuals with disabilities. CCDC works to ensure that state agencies like the Department provide due process of law when depriving individuals with disabilities of benefits for needed services. For more information about CCDC go to www.ccdconline.org.
Equal Rights Center and Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition File Suits Against Abercrombie & Fitch Co. for Discriminating Against People with Disabilities
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 24, 2009 –Today the Equal Rights Center (ERC), a national civil rights non-profit, and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), a statewide disability rights advocacy organization, filed federal lawsuits in Colorado and Maryland against Abercrombie & Fitch Co.—including Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch stores—alleging that the stores using these brands fail to provide adequate access to goods and facilities to people with disabilities.
The Hollister brand of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. was launched in 2000, nearly a decade after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Hollister stores rely on a signature style of construction, which usually includes steps to a porch-like entrance. These entrances with steps are inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. Customers who use wheelchairs or
scooters for mobility are forced to use a segregated door located away from the main entrance. Signage directing customers with disabilities to this door is often hidden or does not exist, and in some cases this door is kept locked. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has refused to remove the steps, despite requests from organizations representing people with disabilities.
“It is shocking and frustrating that nearly 20 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, international corporations still discriminate against people with disabilities,” said Kevin Williams, CCDC’s Legal Program Director and the attorney bringing one of the cases. “The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition members and millions of others across the country should not be forced to encounter discrimination this holiday season—or any other time of the year—when attempting to participate in the same activities as people without disabilities.”
According to the complaints filed today in U.S. District Courts in both Colorado and Maryland, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., the international chain of clothing stores with 1,127 stores located in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and the U.K., has many locations that violate the ADA, a federal law that requires places of public accommodation to be accessible to people with
The ERC and the CCDC also allege that, despite the average square footage of 6,746 in a Hollister store and 8,888 in an Abercrombie & Fitch store, the interiors of both are largely inaccessible. The ERC has conducted investigations of Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch stores in nine states and the District of Columbia. Investigations conducted by the ERC and the
- Steps into the stores, and side entrance doors that are locked;
- Service counters that are too high for customers who use wheelchairs to reach or use;
- Merchandise displays and other internal décor that block access throughout the stores for individuals who use wheelchairs; and
- Fixed shelving merchandise displays that are inaccessible.
“Abercrombie & Fitch Co. designed its Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch brand stores with full knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act, yet still chose to construct stores with physical barriers that prohibit people with disabilities from fully enjoying their services,” said Don Kahl, Executive Director of the ERC. “In this economy and with the holiday season approaching, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. should consider not only the moral ramifications of its conduct, but also the business effect of being inaccessible to the millions of buyers in America
The ERC is represented by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs and the law firm of Vinson and Elkins, LLP.
About the Equal Rights Center (www.equalrightscenter.org)
Since 1983, the Equal Rights Center (ERC), a national non-profit civil rights organization, has worked to identify, challenge, and
eliminate discrimination. The ERC combats discrimination in housing, employment, access to public accommodations and
government services, disability rights and immigrant rights, through education and outreach, research, testing, counseling,
advocacy and enforcement.
About the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (www.ccdconline.org)
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) is a statewide organization run by and for people with all types of disabilities to
promote social justice and create systems change for people with all types of disabilities. The CCDC accomplishes its mission by
changing systems through organizing, advocacy, education, and systemic change.
2009 Memorial Award Winners!
Pamela S Carter for the Jeanette Klimach and George Roberts “Foot Soldier Award”
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless for the Jerry Urban “David and Goliath” Organization Award
Arthur Powers for the Jerry Urban “David and Goliath” Individual Award
Wendy Schultz for the Lucille Weiss Award for Commitment to Education for Person’s with Disabilities
Pamela Moir for the Juli Stewart Caregiver Award
Julian Johnson for the Patrick Zimmerman Award For Excellence in Self Empowerment and Youth Leadership
Leslie Taylor for the Ron Halsey Award for Improving Life for People with Disabilities in Rural Colorado
Congratulations to the winners and thank you for your perseverance!