State loses class action suit over Medicaid

Posted at 10:21 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 00:21:15-04

The State of Idaho has lost yet another lawsuit, this time over Medicaid. 

Families of adults with disabilities are hailing a decision in a class action lawsuit to protect their Medicaid benefits.  It’s a victory for those struggling to survive but one whose impact the state has yet to figure out.

The decision has families feeling a sense of vindication and hope.

“Overjoyed, relieved,” said Delrae Warner whose son Kyle has a severe disability.

“He operates like a seven to 15 month old,” Warner said.

Medicaid was a big part of the family’s lifeline, until a few years ago when the state changed how benefits were calculated.

"Many families saw a significant decrease in funding from the state and for some of them this meant life or death," said Leo Morales, Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho.

The ACLU sued, arguing in part the state wouldn’t let recipients know how the state’s calculator worked.

"The state at some point said that the way they calculated these payments are a state secret.  You can’t keep that a secret as people are trying to appeal their case,” Morales said.

A judge ruled the state was arbitrarily depriving citizens of their property rights and due process.

The Department of Health and Welfare now has 90 days to fix its calculator and increase transparency.

The Warners say the state’s most vulnerable citizens are not the only ones who will benefit.

“It’s a win for the state because it’s better financially than them being institutionalized,” Warner said.

When we asked for a comment from Health and Welfare we were told the decision is so new they are still evaluating it and have not yet decided on a course of action.