At-Home Nursing Services Rules Challenged

by David Gorn

TOPIC ALERT:

A lawsuit filed yesterday urges state health officials to alter California's limit on adult at-home nursing services.

The limit doesn't make sense, the Disability Rights California lawsuit said, because a higher limit would allow some beneficiaries to remain home, which would cost the state less than the price of institutionalization.

DHCS officials said the department has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

The lawsuit centers on Pablo Carranza of San Diego, whose muscular dystrophy only allows him to move a single finger, according to DRC attorneys. Carranza just turned 21 years old so his allotment of funds to cover his care dropped significantly and won't be enough to allow him to remain home, said Debra Marley, associate managing attorney for the advocacy group's San Diego office.

"The Department of Health Care Services has drastically cut the number of in-home nursing care hours when doctors have determined that Pablo needs that nursing care," Marley said.

The cost of nursing care for Carranza currently is about $230,000 a year in the home setting, Disability Rights California attorneys said. Now that Carranza turned 21, the state will pay $180,000 of that for him to stay at home, but attorneys said that leaves the family short by $50,000 and with no choice but to institutionalize Carranza.

The cost to the state for care in an institution will be about $270,000 a year, advocates said.

"This decision is inhumane, illogical and illegal," Marley said. "By putting Pablo in danger of going to a nursing home, the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plus, now it will cost more to place him in an institution."

George Lauer
This story has been changed to correctly identify the state Medi-Cal services named in the lawsuit. An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified the program as In-Home Supportive Services. The lawsuit challenges regulations governing at-home nursing services. -- The Editors

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