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Indiana agency sued over cuts to program for disabled

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A federal lawsuit says Indiana's social services agency has made changes to Medicaid waiver programs that threaten to deprive thousands of developmentally disabled people of income they need to survive outside of institutions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit against the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration on behalf of 27-year-old Karla Steimel in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. The ACLU is asking for class-action status.

Steimel, who has cerebral palsy and requires assistance with daily tasks such as bathing and eating, works at an office but depends on state assistance to live outside of an institution, the lawsuit says. FSSA recently changed the criteria for one program to require applicants to need skilled nursing care such as ventilation or help taking medication. Steimel had been on the waiting list for another program for 15 years when the FSSA eliminated the waiting list and said only certain "priority" applicants would be accepted, court documents say.

"The bottom line is the state operates two significant waiver programs. And for various reasons, she's been told she can't reenroll in either one," ACLU attorney Gavin Rose said.

The state has offered Steimel, who lives in southwest Indiana's Knox County, the option of signing up for a third program, but without the others her income would be greatly reduced, the lawsuit filed Friday contends.

FSSA spokeswoman Marni Lemons said Monday that the agency hadn't received a copy of the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

For the first time in her life, the lawsuit says, Steimel faces the prospect of being forced into an institution.

The ACLU suit contends that the FSSA's new policies violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and asks a judge to order the agency to reinstate former requirements.

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  • Deception
    As usual fraud and deception is all that can be expected with this state run agency. I only wish the federal government knew the truth about this state run agency It would be great if it did go class action, there would be thousands and this is why the judge would prob deny it. Hope she wins her case:))
  • Missing the point as usual
    Shouldn't the goal here be that this woman be able to live independently?? As usual, the state will let the lazy freeload off the system, but someone makes an effort and no help is available. Makes no sense. FSSA is run by a bunch of bureaucrats with no common sense and no compassion.
  • 47%
    Damn TAKERS!!

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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

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