Advocacy Center Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

Lawsuit Seeks to Preserve Rights to a Hearing to Determine Level of Medicaid Funding for Services Provided Through the Home and Community Based Waiver

printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

A lawsuit has been filed by the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. ( Advocacy Center ) in the Circuit Court in and for the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee , Florida against the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). The lawsuit is titled Lyons v. Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Case No. 2009-CA 0144 and has been assigned to Judge John C. Cooper.

Plaintiffs are William Layton Lyons, Francesca Correa, John Bodack and the Advocacy Center . The Advocacy Center is a non-profit corporation authorized by federal law to pursue legal, administrative, and other remedies for individuals with disabilities in Florida . APD is the state agency charged with the administration of home and community based waiver services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

The lawsuit alleges that cuts to the funding levels for home and community based services for individuals with developmental disabilities will cause Plaintiffs and thousands of others to experience immediate irreparable harm. The lawsuit also alleges that Plaintiffs and thousands of others have been denied their right to a hearing in violation of chapter 120 of the Florida Statutes.

Approximately 3600 individuals, for whom APD has cut funding levels, have requested and been denied access to a hearing. Because of these funding level cuts, plaintiffs face a loss of essential medically necessary services. Individuals’ health, safety and community life depend on services such as behavior analysis and support, transportation, personal care, assistance with meals and hygiene, supplies such as formula and adult diapers, dental care, residential habilitation, and other essential services. Funding for these services is not available elsewhere. Plaintiffs seek to preserve their right to a hearing pursuant to chapter 120, Florida Statutes to determine if APD erroneously reduced their funding allotment.

The Plaintiffs are individuals who exemplify the immediate harm faced by thousands of other individuals with developmental disabilities. Mr. Lyons is a 33-year-old who requires 24-hour daily care and lives with his parents. Mr. Lyons has severe cognitive and motor disabilities from meningitis contracted as an infant. Ms. Correa is a 19-year-old woman who, because of severe autism, functions like a young child. Ms. Correa lives with family, but requires continuous supervision and is facing a substantial cut but no access to a hearing, while her twin sister, who also has severe autism, will be given a hearing to dispute her funding cut. Mr. Bodack is a 27-year-old man who was born with a benign brain tumor that impairs his functional abilities. With the help of services he receives now, he works 25 hours a week at Dairy Queen. He faces the loss of services essential to his continued ability to contribute to the community through his job and other activities.

The Advocacy Center maintains that placing the burden of reducing APD funding deficits on the backs of Florida ‘s citizens with developmental disabilities is harmful to Florida ‘s most vulnerable citizens, as well as fiscally shortsighted. Florida ranks extremely low nationwide in per person funding for home and community based services for individuals with developmental disabilities.