In a bold move designed to get sorely needed publicly funded services, families of five Oregonians on wait lists for developmental disability services filed suit against the state. Legal assistance to the families is being provided by the Oregon Advocacy Center (OAC), Aid Services of Oregon, and the law firm Garvey, Schubert & Barer. The suit is based on federal Medicaid law which requires that Medicaid eligible individuals with developmental disabilities receive services within a reasonable period of time. The suit further states that the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires services to be provided in the most integrated setting.
Four of the families need residential placements for their sons and daughters who require round-the-clock care. These individuals are receiving minimal or no services. Their parents are aging and have various health problems that limit their ability to continue providing 24-hour care.
Jim Staley, one of the plaintiffs, has been waiting for services for 15 years. He has severe mental retardation and health problems. Jim is non-verbal and needs assistance in most tasks of daily living. His mother, Karen Staley, feels a sense of urgency to get him into a residential program. “We are both retired and we want to be here to see Jim transition and support the changes in his life instead of him having to deal with the crisis of our death and changes that would be forced upon him then.”
Diann Drummond needs intensive supports so she can continue to care for her daughter, Molly, also a litigant in the suit. Drummond, who is a single parent, would like to keep Molly at home as ong as possible. Molly is non-verbal and has no self care skills. Currently, Drummond is having to bear the cost for in-home respite care and a full day program in the community. After the suit was filed, state officials agreed to enter into settlement talks. The suit was put on hold for 45 days while the parties meet to negotiate an agreement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the litigants will continue forward with the lawsuit.
Photo Description: Lawsuit families make statements at a news conference. From left around table, litigant Helen Healy and her mother Susan Schrepping, litigant John Duffield, litigant Molly Drummond and her mother Diann Drummond, Michael Bailey, Brena Flota (her daughter Brandie Evans behind her is a litigant), Karen Staley and litigant Jim Staley.