California sued for reimbursement rate reductions

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Two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Wednesday, contending that legally required services are becoming inaccessible to people with disabilities because of the state’s reductions in reimbursement rates to community health care providers.

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“It’s illegal to slash basic support services that allow Californians with developmental disabilities to live safely in their communities,” said Tony Anderson, executive director of  the Arc of California, a plaintiff in the lawsuit along with United Cerebral Palsy of San Deigo County, in a news release. “These basic civil rights cannot be compromised or bargained away as part of a budget deal.   The State of California must follow the law and honor its commitment to serve and protect the rights of Californians with developmental disabilities.”

The state of California has frozen reimbursements rates since 2003 and since 2009, they have been reduced by 4.5 percent.

The lawsuit argues that the state failed to consider the impacts on people with disabilities, many of whom are required to receive certain services through Medicaid. It also contends the state did not consider appropriate rate studies of the reimbursement rates and did not seek proper federal approval to change its reimbursement rates.

As a result, the lawsuit contends, the reductions have “devastated” many community health providers and force them to limit services, which has a disproportionate impact on the estimated 245,000 Californians with disabilities.

“As California taxpayers, we fully appreciate the State’s need to reduce costs, but we cannot allow the State to endanger its citizens and risk their basic civil rights,” Anderson said in the release.