12 Civ. 3216 (SAS)

NYLAG filed Strouchler v. Shah in June 2012 against the New York City Human Resources Administration and New York State Department of Health, challenging a policy and practice of reducing and terminating Medicaid-funded personal care services to over a thousand New York City residents who receive such services twenty-four hours per day.  These reductions and terminations of medically necessary home care jeopardized the ability of vulnerable New Yorkers to remain in their community, and forced many to choose between receiving inadequate care at home and entering a nursing home.

For example, plaintiff Charles Strouchler had been an artist in New York but, by the time the suit was filed, suffered from advanced multiple sclerosis.  He needed assistance throughout the night in order to prevent bed sores, adjust his breathing apparatus, and other needs.  Prior to cutbacks in Medicaid, he was provided with twenty-four hours of assistance from home health aides.  In 2012, defendants notified him that his services would be cut, leaving him unattended at night, on the basis that all of his prior authorizations had been a “mistake,” despite the fact that his condition progressively worsened over time.

On September 4, 2012, Judge Shira Scheindlin granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, and subsequently granted class certification.  Under the terms of the preliminary injunction, Defendants were prevented from using illegal standards to determine the amount of home care that is medically necessary for Medicaid recipients, and care was restored to class members.  The parties subsequently negotiated a settlement under which Defendants were bound to continue to comply with the terms of the preliminary injunction.   As part of this settlement, the Department of Health was required to amend its regulation to conform with Judge Scheindlin’s order.  The preliminary injunction will remain in effect until such regulations are promulgated.

NYLAG Attorneys: Benjamin Taylor, Eileen Connor

Co-Counsel: Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Queens Legal Services for the Elderly

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