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Judge rules against new formula

7OYS updates a case from 16 months ago.

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY (KATV) –

The way Arkansas disburses money to some Medicaid waiver recipients must change.

That is what a Pulaski county judge has decided.

It gives us the chance to update the case of Bradley Ledgerwood.

We visited Ledgerwood in his Craighead county home in Cash in January of last year.

It is a home where his parents are paid a stipend to help care for him...but that care was put in jeopardy when the state started using a new formula to calculate benefits.

"I have a good mind mentally,” says Ledgerwood. “But I can't do anything physically for myself."

When a new assessment tool cut the Medicaid waiver benefits received by Ledgerwood and his family, he sued to stop the reduction in payments.

A temporary injunction accomplished that for Ledgerwood and six other disabled Arkansans...but thousands of others saw their in-home care hours reduced.

At the same time, thousands of others saw an increase or received a waiver for in-home care for the first time.

But this week, Judge Wendell Griffen has ruled that the state must stop applying the new formula...not just for Ledgerwood but for all.

"For one thing they don't need to be so secretive,” says Ledgerwood. “They need to have public meetings. They have never talked to anybody in the disability community at all."

And Judge Griffen agreed...throwing out the new assessment tool in large part because the notice given to Medicaid recipients "...did not refer to the specific nature and significance of the change..."

"They just want to cut people I think for the sake of cutting,” speculates Ledgerwood. “And really if this goes forward they are going to destroy the lives of the disabled community."

So...what now? The disabled still need services and the state still needs a way to disburse limited resources.

A hearing set for this Thursday may help answer that question.

So far DHS has indicated that it may appeal Judge Griffen's ruling or request an emergency rule that will allow continued use of the controversial algorithm.

Air date: May 15th, 2018

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