Feds launch civil rights probe of Kentucky's Medicaid program

FRANKFORT, KY -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a civil rights investigation into Kentucky’s Medicaid program after a Lexington man’s services were cut earlier this year, according to documents provided to the Herald-Leader, detailed it its Saturday edition.

Creasa Reed, the mother of James Reed, who is autistic, bipolar and mentally handicapped, filed the complaint in April after Medicaid cut her son’s budget for in-home services, leaving the 60-year-old disabled mother and her 65-year-old husband to provide more hands-on care for James Reed.

The Reeds were providing 48 hours of care in their Lexington home for their 31-year-old son. Because of the cuts to services, the Reeds now have to provide 88 hours of care.

Without the additional help, the Reeds say they may have to put James Reed in an institution.

“The last two places he was at, the state shut them down because there were so many problems,” Creasa Reed said. “He is at eminent risk of out of home placement.”

According to a June 12 letter that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights sent the Reeds, the office will be investigating whether state Medicaid officials acted appropriately when they cut James Reed’s services without considering that Creasa Reed has a disability and could not provide in-home care.

Creasa Reed has a debilitating medical condition called fibromyalgia which she has received Social Security disability benefits for since 2003.

Michael Robinson, a spokesman with the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington D.C., said the office would neither “confirm or deny” the civil rights investigation.

If Kentucky’s Medicaid program is found in violation of civil rights statutes, the office will seek corrections. If the state does not comply, the matter could be turned over to the Department of Justice or the Department of Health and Human Services could terminate federal funding to the state.

It is unclear how long the investigation could take. If the Office of Civil Rights sides with the Reeds, their funding could also be restored, Creasa Reed said.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services officials said Friday that they have not been notified of the civil rights investigation and could not comment on a specific case.

Marsha Hockensmith, executive director of Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, a state agency that advocates for the disabled, said a civil rights investigation is rare, reports The Lexington Herald-Leader.

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