United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
LYNN WINMILL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
the Court is a motion to dismiss filed by the Idaho
Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW). The motion is fully
briefed and at issue. For the reasons explained below, the
Court will deny the motion.
are developmentally disabled adults who qualify for benefits
under Medicaid. They are eligible for long-term institutional
care but choose to live instead in their own homes or in
community settings. When their Medicaid payments were
reduced, they brought this action against IDHW, alleging,
among other things, that the IDHW's budgeting methodology
- referred to as the budget tool - improperly reduces
assistance for some recipients, that the notice that IDHW
uses to inform participants of reductions in their assistance
was insufficient, and that the process for appealing budget
reductions was unfair.
Court certified a class of disabled adults to challenge the
budget tool, notice form, and hearing procedures used by the
IDHW. In addition to these class claims that challenge the
system-wide processes of IDHW, there are individual claims
brought by 16 named plaintiffs alleging that reductions to
their budgets puts them at risk for being institutionalized.
These individual claims are referred to as the
Olmstead claims, after the Supreme Court decision
requiring those in the position of plaintiffs to show that
“the challenged state action creates a serious risk of
institutionalization.” See Olmstead v. L.C. ex rel.
Zimring, 527 U.S. 581, 607 (1999).
parties then reached a settlement of the class claims. The
IDHW agreed to develop a new budget tool, and to keep
plaintiffs' benefits at their prior high level until the
new budgets could be approved and implemented. The settlement
gave the IDHW two years to develop and test the new budget
Court approved the class action settlement, and set a trial
date for the Olmstead claims. The IDHW now seeks to
dismiss the Olmstead claims on the ground that they
are moot because the plaintiffs have been awarded the relief
they sought in this lawsuit - that is, the new budget tool,
revised notice forms, and modified hearing procedures. In the
alternative, the IDHW argues, the Court should proceed to
trial on the Olmstead claims immediately.
plaintiffs have not, however, obtained all the relief they
sued for. The class settlement relies on funding from the
State Legislature and approval by the Centers for Medicare
and Medicaid Services for the required programmatic changes.
Even if the funding and approvals are forthcoming and the new
budget tool is implemented, it may reduce budgets, putting
some participants in danger of institutionalization, thereby
potentially violating Olmstead. In other words, the
plaintiffs have only a proposal at this point, not a final
Court cannot find, therefore, that plaintiffs'
Olmstead claims are moot. While the
Olmstead claims remain alive, they are not ready for
trial until the new budget tool is approved and used to
determine new individual budgets for the plaintiffs. Only
then will the parties know whether the new budgets are
reduced to the point where plaintiffs are in danger of being
institutionalized. That time is more than a year away, and so
this case will sit for an extended period before the parties
will know whether they must proceed to trial on the
Olmstead claims or whether those claims will be
truly moot. These circumstances call for the case to be
administratively terminated, without prejudice to the right
of any party to reopen the case for any reason. Once the
budget tool has been implemented, and applied to the
plaintiffs, the parties can reopen the case to determine
whether the Olmstead claims need to be dismissed or
accordance with the Memorandum Decision set forth above, NOW
THEREFORE IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, that the motion to dismiss
(docket no. 310) is DENIED.
FURTHER ORDERED, that this case be ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSED
without prejudice to the right of either party to reopen the
case for any reason.
FURTHER ORDERED, that the parties shall notify the Court when
the Olmstead issues are either ready for trial or
are to be dismissed. The Court will not ...