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Aug 12

2013

Improper Terminations of EPD Waiver Program Recipients Grab Headlines

Stephanie Akpa

Stephanie Akpa, Equal Justice Works Fellow

This morning’s Washington Post features an insightful piece on improper terminations of participants in the District’s Elderly and Physically Disabled Waiver Program, commonly called the EPD Waiver Program.

The EPD Waiver Program provides home health care services to some of the District’s most vulnerable residents—seniors and individuals with physical disabilities who, without the services provided in the EPD Waiver Program, would be required to live in a nursing home or rely on family members to provide them with services or pay out of pocket for assistance. The program’s mission is to give people the home health services that they need to remain in their communities. In the last few years, that mission has been undermined as hundreds of EPD Waiver Program recipients have been terminated from the program by no fault of their own, but because their home health agency failed to submit the required paperwork to ensure that individuals continue to receive services.

Legal Aid is one of a handful of legal services organizations in the District that has represented and continues to represent and advocate on behalf of individuals who have been unfairly terminated from the EPD Waiver Program. Today’s article sheds light on this important issue and, with the advocacy of groups like Legal Aid, University Legal Services, and the Legal Counsel for the Elderly, will aid in reversing this alarming practice and help people get the support that they need to stay in their communities.

Mar 17

2016

New DC Program to Increase Autonomy for People with Disabilities

Advocates are cautiously optimistic as the District of Columbia rolls out participant-directed Medicaid services for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. If you live in DC and you’ve never heard of participant-directed services you can be forgiven. That’s because every state Medicaid program in the country provides participant-directed services, except the District of Columbia.

In straightforward terms, participant-direction allows people with disabilities to use their Medicaid benefits to hire friends, family members, or anyone else they choose, to help with daily activities like making meals or getting dressed. The District’s new participant-directed program will be called Services My Way. The program will be available for people in the District’s Medicaid waiver program for individuals who are Elderly or Physically Disabled (EPD). As we’ve previously blogged about, the EPD Waiver Program provides home health care services to some of the District’s most vulnerable residents—seniors and individuals with disabilities who, without the services provided in the EPD Waiver Program, would be required to live in a nursing home or pay out of pocket for assistance. Read more →

Feb 11

2010

Legal Aid and McKenna Long & Aldridge Intervene to Ensure Wrongfully Expelled D.C.P.S. Student Graduates and Attends College

Supervising Attorney, Family

Supervising Attorney, Family

A stepfather came to Legal Aid with an urgent problem: his teenage stepdaughter, an excellent all around student just a few months shy of her high-school graduation, was to be expelled from public school on the ground that she was not a D.C. resident and therefore had to pay out-of-state tuition for attending D.C.P.S.  On his own, her stepfather, a longtime D.C. resident (and D.C. Metrobus driver), had tried to challenge D.C.P.S.’s decision, explaining  that this was all a terrible misunderstanding: his stepdaughter lived with him here in D.C.  Indeed, ever since she was one year old, the stepfather had shouldered the responsibilities of caring for and supporting his stepdaughter, whom he treated just as he treated his own biological daughters.  But it was to no avail.  The decision was final; the expulsion went into effect. 

When the stepfather came to Legal Aid, the situation was dire.  With her stepfather and her mother unable to afford the significant cost of out-of-state tuition, the consequences for this young woman were life changing.  Most immediately, she would not be able to graduate with her peers.  But even more disturbing, this young woman’s dream of higher education was now in serious doubt—her college admittance was contingent upon graduation; without her high-school diploma, her future lay in limbo.

Although not within one of Legal Aid’s traditional practice areas, Legal Aid agreed to try to help this young woman’s stepfather persuade D.C.P.S. to reconsider its decision.  Legal Aid first made calls and wrote multiple letters to D.C.P.S. officials, stating that under the law this young woman did qualify for D.C. resident tuition and urging that D.C.P.S. immediately readmit her to school.  Finally, Legal Aid filed an appeal of D.C.P.S.’s decision with the D.C. Court of Appeals.  The result was near immediate: D.C.P.S. reconsidered its decision and agreed to readmit this young woman to school. 

Even though the stepdaughter was allowed to return to school and graduate with her peers, her future was still in doubt: D.C.P.S. took the position that it would not release her transcript unless full payment was made.  Legal Aid turned to Dan Jarcho and Jessica Hinkie of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, who agreed to represent the stepdaughter pro bono.  The result was a happy ending.  After graduation, the stepdaughter received her official high-school diploma and transcript.  D.C.P.S. and the stepfather have resolved their issues.  Most importantly, the stepfather is proud to report that his stepdaughter is thriving at college!