Federal Judge Gives State One Week To Make Health Changes

FRANKFORT, KY -- A federal judge has given the state one week to begin implementing sweeping changes to the state's community-based services for people with mental retardation and physical disabilities, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.

The deadline means the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will have to allocate more money to the programs, said Marsha Hockensmith, assistant director of Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, the Herald-Leader reports.

The Cabinet has not yet seen the written order, said Vikki Franklin, a spokeswoman. "When we do, we will review our options and respond accordingly," she said.

Franklin noted that Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed budget allocates $17.5 million each year of the 2009-10 biennium to support individuals in the community.

But Hockensmith said the Cabinet would need more money to adequately respond to the order. The money in Beshear's budget would provide services for 500 to 700 people, Hockensmith said. She estimates that as many as 10,000 people might need services, reports the newspaper.

The order is the result of a lawsuit that Protection and Advocacy, a state agency that represents people with mental and physical disabilities, filed in 2002, alleging that the state did not provide adequate services to people with physical and mental disabilities.

More than 2,500 people were on waiting lists for services such as day programs, personal care and therapy, the newspaper reports.

In a settlement agreement announced in January 2006, the state said it would put more money, approximately $45 million over five years, into the Medicaid program to pay for more community-based services. About 70 percent of that would come from the federal government.

Federal authorities approved the changes to the Medicaid program in August 2007, and officials with Protection and Advocacy were repeatedly told -- even as late as Oct. 30 -- that the program was on target to begin in January 2008, according to court documents, reports the Heald-Leader.

Then in November, Protection and Advocacy officials were told there was no money in the budget for the program and it might not be until April, at the earliest, that money would be allocated for it, according to a report in the Herald-Leader.

Copyright: The Lexington Herald-Leader.

www.kentucky.com


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  • by Steve Location: Lexington on Mar 1, 2008 at 01:37 PM
    Another example of how "Uncle Ernie" left a mess for someone else to clean up. His administration settled the lawsuit and said they would put the money in starting Jan of 2008, when in 2006 Ernie had a pretty good idea he wouldn't be around then because that was the middle of the hiring scandal. So now Beshear has to try to clean up the mess, and unfortunately other state programs will suffer because if they only have a week to find the money, then somebody else's services that aren't regulated so closely will be slashed immediately to pay for this. This is why I hate most (if not all) politicians; they all lie, cheat, and steal from the poor, downtrodden, and handicapped to do things like pave all the tertiary roads in all Republican counties between November and December after they get beaten in an election (sound familiar Ernie?). Now, that money couldn't have been used for this program, but the money to fix roads until Jun 30 that had to be replaced could have done it.
  • by c Location: fkt on Mar 1, 2008 at 07:56 AM
    Good for the judge! It's about time someone make KY officials do something they are supposed to be doing. Where is the federal money that was supposed to go to this program? I hope the federal government stops giving KY any money until there is better accounting for the money. Too many policitans are getting their pet projects funded BEFORE the services for taxpayers are fully funded and this is WRONG! NO pet prjoects UNTIL ALL SERVICES FOR TAXPAYERS ARE FULLY FUNDED! Crit Luallen needs to do some investigating into how our money is being spent by our elected officals! We don't need casinos or anything else until our elected officials can better handled the money they already get. Taxpayers have to live on a budget & so should state government! DO AWAY WITH EVERYTHING THAT IS NOT NECESSARY UNTIL THE BUDGET IS BALANCED INCLUDING THE LAWMAKERS SALARIES. THEY DON'T DESERVE A SALARY UNTIL THEY DO THEIR JOB!

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