A new federal lawsuit was filed yesterday over the state’s reduction in Medicaid-provided home care services.

Kevin De Liban of Legal Aid of Arkansas summarizes the case of Jacquelyn Dearmore, 71, of Yellville, who has multiple disabilities and depends on home services to stay out of an institution.

 Ms. Dearmore has been on ARChoices for 8 years. Under the new assessment system DHS put into place in 2019, DHS cut her benefits from 143 care hours per month to 103. She appealed on her own and asked that her services stay at their full level pending the outcome of the appeal. But, DHS failed to do so. So, she’s been living with the reduced care for over two months now and suffering immensely. That’s the same issue that was present in the Elder v. Gillespie case we filed last May. DHS still hasn’t fixed the problem, and it’s causing real harm to real people.
There’s an issue in Ms. Dearmore’s case that was not raised in Ms. Elder’s, which is that DHS provided her deficient notice about the reasons for the cut.
Here’s the lawsuit, which names officials of the state Department of Human Services.
I’m seeking a state response, but it seems yet another reflection of squeezing of social services by the Hutchinson administration to reduce cost, even as the governor governs a growing pool of surplus revenue owing to the legislature’s refusal to fully fund public services. Corporate welfare enjoys favor from the Hutchinson administration more than aid to poor people.
And the state makes it hard for the poor to assert rights. From the lawsuit:

For over four years, ADHS and the named defendants have perpetuated the agency’s systematic failure to provide proper written notice and continue the benefits of people who timely appeal and have refused to take corrective action that would have prevented the present harm to Ms. Dearmore. Accordingly, Ms. Dearmore asks that the Court order Defendant
Gillespie in her official capacity to remedy the illegal practices and seeks monetary damages from all named defendants in their individual capacities.

The lawsuit alleges in detail a broken system for assessing needs and hearing appeals.  The bureaucratic maze applies to the critical needs of home health aides, mental health and other services.