After winning a preliminary injunction in federal court to prevent the State of Idaho from cutting crucial Medicaid assistance to vulnerable adults, the ACLU of Idaho has sought class action protection for Idahoans with developmental disabilities statewide. Despite clear court rulings against the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s system for notifying Medicaid participants of the reasons for changes in their individual assessment results, the State has continued to use that system. As ACLU of Idaho Legal Director Ritchie Eppink told the Associated Press, “What the department has done instead is to try to wiggle out by saying, 'OK, we won't send these faulty notices out to your clients, but we will send them out to everyone else in the program.’”
“This shouldn’t be necessary,” Eppink says of the ACLU’s recent motion for class action certification. “A federal court has told the State that its notice system is unconstitutional. By continuing a system with the same problems the court already ruled on, the State is just gambling with the taxpayers’ money—on a bad bet.” The Court can extend the existing injunction to cover all adults who participate in Idaho’s Medicaid programs for those with developmental disabilities if it finds that the system is applicable across the board. “And that’s just obvious,” Eppink notes.
Previously, the State also refused to disclose the formula it used to calculate the amount of services each participant would receive each year, claiming it was a “trade secret.” Early on in the case, the State was forced to reveal that process. The ACLU of Idaho continues to challenge that formula, as well as a notice and hearing system that makes it virtually impossible for participants to appeal the individual budget amounts that the Department assigns to them, even if they can demonstrate problems with the formulas applied to them.