Kentucky: Parent Leader Testimonial (2007)
Kentucky Protection and Advocacy Testimonial
By Louise Underwood, President, Hazelwood Friends and Family
VOR Board M ember (retired) 2007
In February 2002, the Kentucky Protection and Advocacy System filed Michelle P. v. Holsinger in federal court. The Complaint alleged that Kentucky improperly wait listed individuals for Medicaid services.
In January 2006, the parties reached a settlement agreement that called for the state to put about $45 million into Medicaid services through 2008, but also requires that the state close admissions to Kentucky’s state operated ICFs/MR as individuals are transferred from the facilities to community settings.
Although families of state ICFs/MR residents are supportive of plans for additional funding for community programs for people waiting for community services, we were not aware until shortly before the court hearing to approve the settlement of the provision relating to the closure of ICFs/MR – our family members’ homes. At the time of settlement negotiations, neither the State nor Kentucky’s P&A sought the families’ perspective. Families learned of the settlement only 12 days in advance of the court hearing and were not invited to comment. The lack of any meaningful opportunity to contribute to a process that will have potentially significant impact on their vulnerable love one’s lives is unconscionable.
Desperate to be heard, four family organizations representing more than 500 families filed the lawsuit seeking intervention in the Michelle P. lawsuit for the purpose of opposing the closure provision in the settlement agreement. The Council on Mental Retardation, a private non-profit association of families and friends of persons with mental retardation, founded in 1952 and based in Louisville, filed a separate motion for intervention, also objecting to the language that would allow the state to close facilities.
The families and Council’s initial efforts were not successful; intervention was denied. A separate lawsuit has since been filed to continue legal objections to the downsizing language. These efforts are pending.
Families across the State of Kentucky are extremely concerned about Kentucky P&A’s blatant disregard for the perspective of families regarding where their family member with mental retardation is best served. Over the years, it has become apparent that Kentucky P&A does not support public ICFs/MR services for anyone with mental retardation, regardless of the severity of cognitive disability. The Michele P. lawsuit, is just the most recent example.