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Ninth Circuit Finds State May Limit Services To Developmentally Disabled Under Medicaid Waiver Regardless Of ADA


HLD, v. 33, n. 5 (May 2005)

Ninth Circuit Finds State May Limit Services To Developmentally Disabled Under Medicaid Waiver Regardless Of ADA

The Arc of Washington, a privately operated residence, and three developmentally disabled individuals (plaintiffs) brought a class action against the state of Washington's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) alleging that limiting the state's services to a particular number of individuals violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of DSHS, decertified the class, and dismissed the action. Plaintiffs appealed.  

The Ninth Circuit affirmed on the ADA issue. The appeals court first noted that the Medicaid waiver statute that allows for the provision of services at home does provide for a limit on the number of individuals who may receive the services. On the other hand, the appeals court also noted that the ADA provides that "no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity."

Plaintiffs argue that in order to comply with this provision, Washington must make home-based services available to every developmentally disabled person who qualifies. Disagreeing, the appeals court found that the ADA cannot overcome the specific cap provision of the Medicaid statute. Under principles of statutory construction, a general statute will not nullify a specific one, said the court.

Accordingly, the appeals court found that Washington is permitted to limit its services to a particular number of people in this instance.

Arc of Washington State Inc. v. Braddock, No. 03-35605, 2005 WL 701683 (9th Cir. Mar. 29, 2005). To read the case, go to$file/0335605.pdf?openelement



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