Local News

Suit against DHHS changes hits roadblock

Posted March 8, 2010 5:13 p.m. EST

N.C. health, mental health, Medicaid generic

— An administrative law judge who stopped changes to how the state Department of Health and Human Services allots care did not have jurisdiction to do so, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said Monday.

The Association for Home and Hospice Care of North Carolina Inc. filed suit against the state asking that changes to how care is determined be stopped.

Judge Don Overby placed a preliminary injunction on the Division of Medical Assistance Feb. 19, stopping it from using a new scoring system to determine how many hours of in-home care patients can receive.

DHHS is under pressure to reduce costs because of budget cuts made by the state legislature. The agency admitted that the review of care was spurred by budgetary concerns.
In his ruling, Overby found association members would be harmed if DHHS proceeds with the planned cuts.

Stephens did not rule on the merits of the case but merely decided that the Office of Administration did not have jurisdiction. A DHHS spokesman said Monday that the department was pleased with the decision.

The Association for Home and Hospice Care was weighing whether to appeal to the decision through the state court system or to take it to federal court.