Monday, October 22, 2012

Washington Governor Gregoire Decides Not to Seek Cert. in M.R.

Big news, and a big win for ADAPT, ASAN, and other advocates who worked hard to encourage Governor Gregoire to let the Ninth Circuit's ruling stand.  See this AP story, which begins:
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has decided to not appeal a recent appellate court decision that struck down budget cuts reducing the amount of in-home care hours available to Medicaid clients in the state.
Here's the press release from Governor Gregoire's website:
Gov. Chris Gregoire today issued the following statement regarding the state’s decision to not appeal a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling granting a preliminary injunction in the M.R. vs. Dreyfus case to the U.S. Supreme Court: 
“I have, and will continue to support the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead ruling. We heard the concerns of many advocates who feared that Supreme Court review of the 9th Circuit decision could have had broader negative implications. While any appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would have made it clear that the state did not seek to undermine the Olmstead ruling, my team and I have worked tirelessly to avoid taking this case to that level at this time. 
“I worked closely with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to obtain the guidance we needed, and on the basis of that guidance Washington state believes we can balance our budget while maintaining the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Olmstead ruling.

“The letter today from HHS and the U.S. Department of Justice affirms that, with appropriate process, Washington state can reduce its service level and still be consistent with federal law. Attorney General Rob McKenna and I agree that it is in the best interest of all citizens to return to the federal district court to obtain a final decision, rather than seek the review of the 9th Circuit’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court at this time. 
“I thank both Secretary Sebelius and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for their effort and assistance. In the meantime, I remain proud of our state’s leadership in providing personal care services. Even with moderate reductions, Washington state remains one of the most generous states in the nation to provide services that keep our elderly and people with disabilities in the community. And I’m proud of our Department of Social and Health Services, which used its head and its heart to ensure those with the greatest need were least affected.”
As I said when the Ninth Circuit denied rehearing, it was far from clear that the Supreme Court would have granted cert. in this case had the state filed a cert. petition.  Still, Governor Gregoire's decision not to file a cert. petition removes a potential threat to Olmstead litigation, and it has to be understood as resulting significantly from the pressure that organized people with disabilities put on the state.

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