December 2017 eNews

Disability Rights NC eNews

Website Survey Open

Last year, our website was accessed nearly 40,000 times for information about our work, news important to people with disabilities, and self-advocacy resources. Our website is overdue for an update, and we could use your help!

Please take our online survey. We want to know how you use our website, if you are able to find what you need, and how we can make the website better. The survey will be open until Tuesday, December 12.


Cardinal Innovations: Looking for New Board Members

Last week, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) took over operation of Cardinal Innovations, the Managed Care Organization that provides behavioral health services to some 850,000 people in Mecklenburg and 19 other counties. DHHS took this unprecedented action after audits revealed exorbitant salaries, perks, and severance packages for executives. (Read this article from North Carolina Health News for details.)

DHHS dissolved Cardinal’s board of directors and is now looking for new members. If you’re interested in serving, you need to apply by Monday, December 11. Get details about the position and how to apply here.


Client Story: Fighting Cuts in Services

This year, we have received a flood of calls from the families of people who benefit from the Innovations Waiver and whose services have been cut. (To learn about recent changes to the waiver program, check out our video.) Here’s the story of one of our clients.

SH is a 29-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child. She was getting 84 hours of services a week, which enabled her to live safely at home and engage in her community.

Then her LME/MCO, Vaya Health, cut her hours to 78 per week and informed her family of its intention to cut her hours more in the coming years. Her parents appealed to the NC Office of Administrative Hearings.

Nothing about SH’s condition, living situation, or needs had changed. So how did Vaya justify the cuts? It couldn’t. In court, Vaya’s psychologist testified that 78 hours was the maximum number he would approve, regardless of the needs of the individual. He could not cite any standards or clinical guidelines to explain how he came up with the 78-hour cap—the number appeared to be arbitrary.

The Administrative Law Judge who heard the case ruled in SH’s favor, saying that Vaya had violated her due process rights. Medicaid decisions must be made using clear standards that the average person can understand. An individual who wants to challenge a decision must be able to access and understand the standards used to make that decision. Because Vaya did not have such standards, it violated SH’s rights.

This case is part of Disability Rights NC’s long-term goal of requiring all of the state’s LME/MCOs to provide individuals with the services and supports they need to live and participate in their communities. People with disabilities have the right to live as independently as possible in the community of their choice. Making sure they have the services they need is a fundamental part of enforcing that right.

Taking a Close Look at Guardianship

North Carolina Health News is doing a series of articles on guardianship in North Carolina. The first article is now online. Here’s an excerpt:

“In North Carolina, we overuse guardianship,” said Corye Dunn, a lawyer with Disability Rights NC.

She said there are a small number of cases where guardianship is necessary. But Dunn and organizations such as Rethinking Guardianship and First in Families of NC believe in helping a young adult with disabilities through supportive decision making.

“I think people really need to examine their goals in seeking guardianship,” Dunn said. “There are important developmental opportunities in those years between 18 and 25. Most young adults make mistakes and that’s developmentally appropriate. That’s how you learn to be an adult.”

For many adults with disabilities, Supported Decision Making is a good alternative to guardianship. You can learn about how it works at the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making website. And follow us on Facebook or Twitter and look out for the next article in NC Health News’ series.


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