Thursday, March 14, 2013

Maryland DHR Sued over Medicaid Delays

Earlier this year, low-income Maryland residents with disabilities filed a class action lawsuit against the Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) over extensive Medicaid delays.

The named plaintiff, Mary Lou Magee-Kern, lost her insurance benefits after her husband was laid off due to the economy. When she became unable to pay to see doctors to help her manage her disabilities, she applied for Medicaid. Although an eligibility determination is supposed to be made within 60 days under Maryland state law, she had been waiting for a decision for more than 233 days at the time the lawsuit was filed.

For people like Magee-Kern with serious medical or long-term care needs, Medicaid is the only way they can afford critical medical care, prescription drugs, and long-term care. “No one should have to go through this,” said Magee-Kern. “It’s just wrong and I want to do my part to make sure other people don’t have to suffer and get sicker just because they don’t have the money or the insurance.”

According to Maryland’s own report, as of December 31, 2012, there were more than 20,000 pending applications for Medicaid. Of the pending cases, half of them were categorized as untimely due to "agency delay."  Throughout all of 2012, the number of untimely pending cases never dropped below 8,300, indicating a severe and chronic backlog.

Jenny Pelaez, an attorney from the National Center for Law and Economic Justice in New York said “[t]he plaintiff, and others like her, are in dire need.  It’s unconscionable that any state, and especially Maryland -- which is often thought to be at the forefront of healthcare reform -- is keeping some of its neediest and most vulnerable citizens waiting for something as fundamental as healthcare access because of bureaucratic backlogs.  It’s a violation of law and basic human decency.” Read the article.

The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. is saddened by this situation and hopes that the state of Maryland and those affected by the delays come to a resolution and more efficient processing of Medicaid applications is put into place. At the Farr Law Firm, with proper planning we help families throughout Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to obtain Medicaid assistance without having to deplete their life savings. Read more about the services we offer, or call us now at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a free consultation.

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