The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) announced today that it has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of itself and two individuals with intellectual disabilities against the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) for violations of federal Medicaid law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act, because plaintiffs, who are Medicaid beneficiaries, are unable to access prompt services to which they are entitled, which places them at serious risk of unnecessary institutionalization. The lawsuit, Miller v. Department of Human Services, was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania today.
“The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania has been tracking this problem for many, many years,” said Kelly Darr, Legal Director at DRN. “DRN has spent a lot of time and resources to represent individual plaintiffs, conduct individual interventions, and advocate with DHS to avoid the unnecessary institutionalization of persons with intellectual disabilities. It was time to address this problem in a more systemic way so that the threat of institutionalization in state facilities, psychiatric hospitals, or nursing facilities come to an end.”
In the complaint, DRN identifies numerous individuals enrolled in the Consolidated Waiver, a Medicaid home and community-based services program for individuals with intellectual disabilities who were forced into institutions or had their discharges from institutions delayed because of the lack of timely access to residential and other services funded by the Consolidated Waiver necessary to enable them to remain in their own homes and the community. Many of these individuals were represented by a DRN staff attorney or had a DRN advocate working on their behalf.
The named plaintiffs are Jared Miller (37) and Albert M. Spurri (25) are Consolidated Waiver participants who have been living at home with their families. Due to their complex needs, their families have struggled to maintain them at home with quality services funded by the Consolidated Waiver. The families have sought residential services repeatedly through the Consolidated Waiver, but those efforts have been unsuccessful. Unless the families can secure residential habilitation services promptly through the Consolidated Waiver, they will resort to institutionalization.
“It is outrageous that beneficiaries of the Consolidated Waiver in Pennsylvania are entitled to services, yet cannot timely secure them,” said Kelly Darr, DRN’s Legal Director. “The lack of timely access to Consolidated Waiver services has in too many cases resulted in unnecessary institutionalization, often by Court Order. The forced institutionalization of individuals with intellectual disabilities could have been avoided had the state provided the approved services that these individuals wanted and to which they are entitled.”
In the lawsuit, DRN seeks to ensure DHS provides prompt access to Consolidated Waiver services so that persons with intellectual disabilities can remain in the community and receive necessary services to avoid institutionalization.
The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) is the statewide protection and advocacy agency for Pennsylvanians with disabilities. DRN protects and advocates for the rights of people with disabilities so that they may live the lives they choose, free from abuse, neglect, discrimination, and segregation.