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Charlotte Area News

Disability Advocates Sue North Carolina For Cutting Services

http://66.225.205.104/MT20110706a.mp3

Disability Rights North Carolina and two other advocacy groups are suing the state for cutting services to people with developmental disabilities. The lawsuit claims the state didn't give enough notice or a chance for patients to appeal the cuts. The lawsuit focuses on four teenagers with severe developmental disabilities in Union and Cabarrus counties. But Vicki Smith of Disability Rights North Carolina said more than 600 people had their services reduced or cut altogether on July 1. "The problem is that individuals are being told this change is happening, it's happening to you, we understand that your circumstances haven't changed, we've decided to use a new methodology in terms of our business, and there's really nothing you can do about it," Smith said. Smith said the plaintiffs have been receiving services at home or in the community, such as help with daily tasks and motor skills. The services are covered by Medicaid, but the state Department of Health and Human Services is working with almost $500 million $433 million less in the new state budget. In a written statement, the Department of Health and Human Services says it's still delivering an appropriate amount of care to meet the medical needs of people with developmental disabilities. Disability advocates are asking a federal judge to certify their lawsuit as a class-action.