December 17, 2003
Abbott v. ADA followup

I received the following comment from my post about State Attorney General Greg Abbott and his legal assault on the ADA here in Texas. The commenter, Garth Corbett, is one of the plaintiff's attorneys:

I am the attorney for Advocacy, Inc., that was quoted in the Austin American Stateman article. I want to briefly comment on the quote that is attributed to me regarding the cost of increasing Medicaid waivers(i.e.,The 64 thousand dollar question is how much will waiver services cost?).

To be clear, we are not talking about an unfunded mandate. The context for the quote concerns two groups: those currently living in institutions and those living in the community.

It is our contention, that for those who are already receiving services in state institutions that the costs of providing waiver services at home or in a community setting would cost the same or less than what the state currently spends on providing services in an institutional setting.

And for those severely disabled residents already living in the community, but who currently receive no services, getting waiver services at home may in the long run save the State money. That is, getting needed services that will help keep people at home will (we believe) result in less people needing to being institutionalized later on. In many cases, receiving a modest array of services at an earlier point in time promotes better health and greater independence.

As an aside, persons who are part of this lawsuit but live in the community without services are nonetheless eligible for institutional services from the state right now. In other words, if they were willing to leave home and move to a congregate facility funded by the state, they would be eligible to receive a whole array of services.

So, the context for the 64 thousand dollar comment is not where the money will come from. The money for additional waivers will come from the institutional budget and Medicaid related cost savings. How much additional money will be available for waiver services from these sources is unknown at this point, and that is the $64,000.00 question.

Because the state claims that we cannot sue them, we have not been able to do any discovery. Accordingly, we have not been able to get any state documents or depose any state officials. But when we are able to get this information, we are confident that the record will show that the state's policy of putting waiver applicants on a waiting list for an unspecified period of time violates the ADA. Moreover, it would not be an undue financial burden for the state to provide, at a reasonable pace, waiver services to all those requesting such services.

Thanks very much! In the interests of fairness and balance, I'll be happy to print any similar elucidation from AG Abbott's office. I'm sure he's composing a response as I type.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 17, 2003 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack