Health and Family Services Cabinet
Health and Family Services Cabinet, Protection and Advocacy, Settle Class Action

Press Release Date:  Thursday, January 26, 2006  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Vikki Franklin (502)564-6786  

Health and Family Services Cabinet, Protection and Advocacy, Settle Class Action
Cabinet Creates Programs and Will Seek Increase in Funding for Community Services
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 26, 2006) The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) and Protection and Advocacy have resolved a class action lawsuit that will increase Kentucky’s commitment to providing community services to mentally retarded and developmentally disabled individuals. 

“This settlement avoids an estimated $1 billion liability that was facing the Commonwealth and provides broader opportunities for individuals with mental retardation and developmental disabilities by capitalizing on innovations within the KyHealth Choices waiver designed to increase individuals’ access to community alternatives,” said CHFS Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “Contingent on the court’s approval of the settlement agreement and final approval of the waiver by the federal government, we are extremely pleased to be able to move forward on improving access to services to one of Kentucky’s most vulnerable populations.”

The settlement agreement seeks to create new community services and expand existing ones, while giving CHFS more flexibility to use resources in a more effective and efficient manner.

It relies heavily on the 1115 Medicaid waiver proposal for the KyHealth Choices program that received initial federal approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) earlier this month. 

Under the terms of the agreement, CHFS committed to seek more than $27.5 million in new funding for community services for mentally retarded and developmentally disabled individuals. This translates into 100 new SCL slots each in fiscal year 2007 and 2008, as recommended by Governor Ernie Fletcher in his proposed budget. Additional funds are also being sought for a crisis stabilization program to meet the needs of families facing an emergency with a loved one. 

Any savings realized from the Optimum Choices benefit plan within the KyHealth Choices program will stay within the Optimum Choices plan, instead of lapsing to the general fund. The Optimum Choices plan is designed to serve individuals with these diagnoses. In addition, all current SCL recipients will be transitioned into the KyHealth Choices program.

The class action lawsuit, filed in 2002, alleged that Kentucky failed to provide adequate community services to qualifying individuals with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.