State Budget Cuts to People with Mental Illness – SEEKING PLAINTIFFS!

Disability Rights Oregon wants to stop the cuts to personal care services because we believe that many of the people who receive those services will be at risk of institutionalization (such as going back to the state hospital) if they lose their services. In order to bring the case, we need to find who is affected and who is at risk by Friday, July 16, 2010.

On July 2, 2010, Richard Harris, Director of the Addictions and Mental Health Division, sent out letters to all clients with mental illness who are receiving up to 20 hours of personal care services through the Medicaid (OHP) program to notify them that those services will end on July 31, 2010.

Those services provide basic personal hygiene, nutrition, and assistance with medications (assuring medications are taken as prescribed, observing reactions, reminding people when prescriptions need to be refilled and assisting with that).

In addition, clients may get personal care hours for housekeeping, arranging medical appointments, extra support due to their mental illness, and someone to observe and report changes to their mental health status to help prevent a crisis.

These are vital services — and the only ones that people with mental illness are eligible for under Medicaid.

DRO wants to stop those cuts, and believes that many of the people who receive those services will be at risk of institutionalization (such as going back to the state hospital) if they lose their services.

But in order to bring the case, we need to find those people who are affected and who are at risk.

    * The best plaintiffs will be folks who have recently been hospitalized (within the last year or two), gotten out, now have housing and are stabilized because of these services — and who will likely not make it in the community if they lose those services.

    * We will need to have support from the care provider, case manager, and/or doctor (ideally) that they are at imminent risk — but first we need to find them!

If you are an advocate, a care provider, a case worker, a friend or family member, or person who is receiving those personal care hours, please help us put out the word.

Call DRO at 503.243.2081 or 1.800.452.1694 if you know of such people who are at risk, or better yet, have people call DRO directly (or provide us with contact information and we will make the call).

Our front desk and intake workers are ready to gather the necessary information.

If you need more specific information about the lawsuit and the types of plaintiffs DRO is seeking, please call Kathy Wilde, the legal director, who is coordinating this effort.

Time is of the essence!

We need plaintiffs by the end of next week (July 16th) — but as soon as possible.

The lawsuit must be filed the week of July 26th in order to seek an order from the federal court stopping the state from implementing the cuts.

Otherwise, the cuts go into effect on August 1st.

READ – State Budget Cuts to People with Mental Illness – SEEKING PLAINTIFFS!