Lawsuit Claims State of Minnesota Has Underspent Funds Meant to Serve the Disabled

Thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities have been forced needlessly to wait months and even years for community-based services because the state has underspent more than $1 billion in public funds, according to a lawsuit filed last week Friday in federal court in St. Paul. Attorneys representing a group of people with disabilities allege that for nearly two decades, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has mismanaged money set aside under Medicaid, the state and federal health insurance program, for services intended to help people with disabilities live more meaningful and integrated lives in their communities. More than 5,000 Minnesotans with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been placed on county waiting lists – in some cases, for a decade or more – for Medicaid benefits, known as “waivers,” which fund a wide variety of community-based services, from personal caregiving in the home to job coaching and transportation to day treatment programs. The lawsuit alleges that, in many cases, people are kept on these waiting lists for extended periods without ever being told that there are adequate waiver funds to pay for these services.¬†¬† DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said Friday that “quickly reducing, and ultimately eliminating” the waiting lists for people with disabilities are key goals of a new state plan, known as an Olmstead Plan, that has been submitted to federal court for possible approval. The Olmstead Plan, a detailed blueprint for expanding community services for people with disabilities, calls for eliminating the waiting list to one of Minnesota’s main waivers, known as the Community Access for Disability Inclusion (CADI) waiver, entirely by October 2016. People on a second list, for the Developmental Disability (DD) waiver, would move off more quickly starting in December, Jesson said. State officials have long argued, however, that many people on waiting lists for waivers are receiving other services, such as medical visits and home caregiving, and are not being deprived of county social services. Disability advocates have argued that the money goes unspent in part because of perverse incentives. Counties are required to reimburse the state if they overspend their waiver funds. As a result, say advocates, some counties tend to be overly cautious and spend much less than the amount allocated.

Source/more: Minneapolis Star-Tribune 

David Wingate is an Elder Law Attorney with the Elder Law Office of David Wingate. The Elder Law Office works in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law practice consists of Powers of Attorneys, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and Asset Protection.

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