This federal lawsuit is a challenge to a reduction in in-home personal care hours provided to eligible Medicaid recipients in Washington. The plaintiffs in this case are individuals with disabilities who receive in-home personal care and would risk institutionalization if the amount of in-home care is insufficient to meet their care needs (which were determined by the state's individualized assessment process under Medicaid). There are also three organizational plaintiffs which serve individuals with disabilities in Washington.
After Washington announced its reduction of care hours (deemed necessary to control state spending), the plaintiffs filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on December 23, 2010 and sought to prevent the reductions from taking effect by filing an accompanying motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. On December 30, District Judge Thomas S. Zilly denied the motion for a temporary restraining order. The United States filed a statement of interest supporting the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction in January 2011. After some scheduling issues and minor motions, Judge Zilly denied the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction on February 9, 2011. The plaintiffs then appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
In December 2011, Judge William Fletcher wrote for a 2-1 majority in reversing the District Court's denial of the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. Judge Fletcher's opinion held that the plaintiff's had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their ADA claims, and that they would suffer irreparable harm without an injunction. In June 2012, the Ninth Circuit denied to rehear the case en banc, despite a lengthy dissent from Judge Carlos Bea.
In October 2012, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire (press release
) decided not to appeal the denial of preliminary injunction to the U.S. Supreme Court, thanks in part to an advocacy effort on the part of disability rights organizations.
The case will now move forward at the trial level, and the plaintiffs will likely proceed with efforts to obtain class certification (motions for class certification were stayed pending the Ninth Circuit decisions). Beth Kurtz - 11/09/2012