Suit alleges ADA violations in MassHealth procedures

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The Disability Policy Consortium filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday against Massachusett’s state Medicaid agency, on behalf of eight individuals who charge that MassHealth’s materials for renewing Medicaid benefits contain obstacles making them inaccessible to people with disabilities.

This is a chrome colored depiction of the universal access symbol.

Lawsuit demands reasonable accommodation

Four of the plaintiffs, who are blind, claim MassHealth failed to provide materials in Braille or in other alternative formats, resulting in the suspension, and in some cases elimination, of benefits when they were unable to read and, therefore, respond to the forms.

Similarly, two of the plaintiffs, who are blind, said the materials were not available in an accessible format, such as American Sign Language. The other two plaintiffs argue the system’s telephone answering system is inaccessible to people with developmental and cognitive disabilities because it is difficult to navigate.

“Where necessary to ensure that communications with individuals with hearing,vision, and cognitive/developmental disabilities are as effective as communications with nondisabled persons, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as a “public entity,” must provide appropriate auxiliary aids,” the lawsuit states.

This failure to provide “reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, calls for MassHealth to provide “forms, materials and other communications in an accessible format of their choice within a reasonable time” and provide monetary compensation to the eight plaintiffs.

MassHealth, the state’s second largest health insurer, provides health care insurance for more than one million low-income people.