Lawsuit challenges Illinois age requirements

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An Illinois man is challenging the age restrictions in an Illinois law that limits eligibility for a Medicaid program providing home and community based services to people under the age of 21.

The individual, who aged out of the program June 18, previously received home-based health care services 16 hours a day, at a cost of $18,000 per month. Under the state’s Medicaid laws, the cost of home-based health care services for people ages 21 and older is capped at $9,429 per month.

As a result, state law would require him to be transferred to an institutional setting. According to an amicus brief filed in May by the Justice Department on his behalf, this form of unnecessary segregation would violate the Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmstead decision, which requires states to provide services for people to live in the most integrating setting possible. It would also cost the state about $55,000 a month.

In its amicus brief, the Justice Department argues that as a result of the age restriction, Illinois “practices discriminate against (people with disabilities) by denying class members the resources necessary to reside in the community.”

Between July 2007 and December 2009, 504 people under age 21 received funding through the program, with 37 of them aging out during that span.

The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in May, is on behalf of nine people with disabilities.