LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Two federally funded advocacy groups in Arkansas are disputing over a lawsuit that challenges reductions in benefits for thousands of Medicaid recipients with disabilities.

Both Jonesboro-based Legal Aid of Arkansas and Little Rock-based Disability Rights Arkansas oppose the cuts resulting from state officials’ decision to use a computer program to allocate hours of home-based care to people with disabilities. But Legal Aid, which filed the lawsuit last year, is opposing a request by the disability rights group to be added as plaintiff in the case, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Disability Rights Arkansas filed its request last month noting a temporary order last year reversed cuts in benefits provided to seven Legal Aid clients but didn’t help thousands whose benefits were also reduced. The request asked that the disability rights group and three other Medicaid recipients whose benefits were cut be added as plaintiffs.

“Allowing the requested intervention will ensure the representation of not just the seven named Plaintiffs, but the entire group of persons with disabilities who have been harmed by the flawed rulemaking process used by (the state Department of Human Services) in this case,” attorneys for the disability rights group wrote.

Officials with Legal Aid and the Human Services Department said the group waited too long to try getting involved.

“Though the plaintiffs do not begrudge this last-minute attempt at intervention to escape a desperate situation, their efforts would only derail the present litigation and delay a final judgment that could bring them relief,” wrote Kevin De Liban, an attorney for Legal Aid.

Attorneys for Disability Rights Arkansas argued they didn’t delay in attempting to intervene, noting the case was filed last year and has been on appeal for much of the time since.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com