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Oregon DHS Sued Over Reducing In-Home Care Hours


People who've been through the foster care system with the Oregon Department of Health and Human Services, are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions later in life, according to a new study.

People who’ve been through the foster care system with the Oregon Department of Health and Human Services, are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions later in life, according to a new study.

Bradley W. Parks/OPB

A group of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against the Oregon’s Department of Human Services.

The plaintiffs, several adults and one child, live in Clackamas, Douglas, and Harney Counties, and in East Portland.

Disability Rights Oregon, which is representing the plaintiffs, said DHS didn’t explain cuts in services, like bathing and in home medical assistance, that help people stay in their homes.

“Due to some budget challenges, DHS decided to cut those services across the board by about 30 percent,” said Tom Stenson, an attorney with Disability Rights Oregon.

In its lawsuit, the nonprofit said that lack of explanation violates the Constitution.

“The arbitrary manner in which [the plaintiffs] were notified of the slashed supports, without a meaningful explanation of the reasons for reduced supports, violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the lawsuit states.

Between 2015 and 2017, some 3,000 children and 8,000 adults accessed in-home care through DHS, according to Disability Rights Oregon. The nonprofit said the services are primary funded through Medicaid.

Last September, the state cut the number of hours people received in-home care. The reduced services included things like help with eating, bathing and taking medication.

“In the past seven months, those in-home care hours have been cut for virtually every person in Oregon entitled to those in-home care hours,” the lawsuit states.

DHS declined an interview request. A spokeswoman for the agency said it doesn’t comment on pending lawsuits.

The agency’s website said it learned the way it had been providing care in the past “could end in a number of hours that are more than were needed to meet an individual’s needs.”

DHS said on its website that it would begin using a new needs assessment in September.

“This number of hours will likely be fewer than the old versions …”

In its lawsuit, Disability Rights Oregon said it wants DHS to restore the cuts to in-home services.

OPB’s Amelia Templeton contributed to this report.

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