Federal District Court Judge Louise Flanagan entered an order enjoining North Carolina’s Medicaid agency from reducing benefits to disabled medicaid beneficiaries without due process. Across the country, Medicaid agencies are cutting benefits and services to recipients in an attempt to cut costs. Under the federal laws that govern Medicaid, states must give beneficiaries adequate notice and an opportunity to challenge cuts where they will result in hardship.
In this case, North Carolina’s Medicaid agency provides certain services to profoundly disabled citizens that qualify for institutionalization. These citizens are entitled to receive home based services that allow them to live with family or independently, depending on their level of disability. North Carolina changed the calculation of service levels, and mailed a cursory notice to all recipients of home based services. The Court found the notice failed to adequately inform these North Carolina citizens of their rights to challenge the arbitrary service cuts.
The decision requires North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services to restore services until each beneficiary has an opportunity to challenge the cuts. Congratulations to our friends at Disability Rights, NC and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, for doing such great work on behalf of some of North Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens.