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Beckem v. Minott

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 9, 2015

MICHAEL BECKEM AND LOIS BECKEM, Plaintiffs,
v.
DEBRA MINOTT, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE INDIANA FAMILY AND SOCIAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, ET AL., Defendants.

ORDER

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

For a number of years, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration ("FSSA") had a policy in place that allowed developmentally disabled individuals to receive Medicaid waiver services through a waiver program applicable to individuals who needed nursing-facility level of care. To remedy this problem for individuals who did not meet the nursing facility level of care requirement, the FSSA changed its policy and began transitioning the inappropriately placed individuals to another waiver program for which they were eligible (the "Policy Change"). Plaintiffs are developmentally disabled individuals who, as a result of the Policy Change, were transitioned to a different waiver program. According to Plaintiffs, this transition caused a reduction in the waiver services they receive in their homes, which in turn reduced the number of hours per week that they could leave their homes to engage in activities in the community.

This suit challenges the Policy Change. The parties' cross-motions for summary judgment are currently pending before the Court. Plaintiffs contend that the Policy Change violated the Americans with Disabilities Act's ("ADA") and Rehabilitation Act's so-called integration mandates, which require "[a] public entity [to] administer services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities." 28 C.F.R. § 35.130(d); see 28 C.F.R. § 41.51(d).

For the reasons explained below, the Court cannot conclude that Plaintiffs' integration-mandate claims are ripe for review. The reason for this is simple: the integration mandate focuses on the setting in which services are administered, not the amount of services received. Plaintiffs do not contend that the setting in which they receive services has changed as a result of the Policy Change, nor could they, as Plaintiffs, both before and after the Policy Change, received Medicaid waiver services at their homes. Instead, Plaintiffs argue that the Policy Change caused a decrease in their ability to engage in activities in the community, which they maintain violates the integration mandate.

The Seventh Circuit has made clear that, absent institutionalization (or perhaps some other involuntary change to a less integrated setting), an integration-mandate claim is not ripe for adjudication. This precedent, of course, binds this Court. Because the Policy Change has not caused Plaintiffs to be either institutionalized or moved to a different setting in which they receive Medicaid waiver services, their integration-mandate claims are unripe and summary judgment in Defendants' favor is warranted.

The Court notes that Plaintiffs claim a significant hardship caused by the Policy Change[1] in Plaintiffs' lives and the lives of their family members who care for them. Whenever government services that were previously provided no longer are, the toll it takes on those who rely on such services is often dramatic. But the Court is bound by clear Seventh Circuit precedent in this case. Although other circuits have applied standards to integration-mandate claims that are perhaps more favorable to Plaintiffs, it is for the Seventh Circuit, not this Court, to revisit or clarify its position on the issue should it choose to do so. See Resier v. Residential Funding Corp., 380 F.3d 1027, 1029 (7th Cir. 2004) (stating that in our "hierarchical system, decisions of a superior court are authoritative on inferior courts"). But the appellate court's current position is clear. Accordingly, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, [Filing No. 39], Plaintiffs' Cross Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED, [Filing No. 41], and Plaintiffs' integration-mandate claims are dismissed without prejudice because they are unripe.[2]

I.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed. 202 (1986).

On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable factfinder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has "repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them, " Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

"The existence of cross-motions for summary judgment does not, however, imply that there are no genuine issues of material fact." R.J. Corman Derailment Servs., LLC v. Int'l Union of Operating Engineers, 335 F.3d 643, 647 (7th Cir. 2003). Specifically, "[p]arties have different burdens of proof with respect to particular facts; different legal theories will have an effect on which facts are material; and the process of taking the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, first for one side and then for the other, may highlight the point that neither side has enough to prevail without a trial." Id. at 648.

II.

BACKGROUND

The Court draws the factual background from the undisputed evidence submitted by the parties. The parties dispute several facts, and vigorously dispute what conclusions should be drawn from those facts. The Court sets forth the disputed facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, since the Court ultimately grants summary judgment in Defendants' favor.[3]

A. The Medicaid Waiver Programs and the FSSA's Policy Change

This case involves Medicaid waiver programs funded jointly by the federal government and the State of Indiana. These programs allow states such as Indiana to waive certain federal Medicaid requirements. See generally 42 U.S.C. § 1396n. A subset of these programs-homeand-community-based waiver programs-"permit[] a State to furnish an array of home and community-based services that assist Medicaid beneficiaries to live in the community and avoid institutionalization." [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-5 at 8.] The FSSA submits waivers for approval to the United States Department of Health and Human Services ("DHHS"). [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-2 at 4.] Relevant to this litigation are three such waiver programs currently administered by the FSSA: the Aged and Disabled Waiver ("A&D Waiver"), the Community Integration and Habilitation Medicaid Waiver ("CIH Waiver"), and the Family Supports Medicaid Waiver ("FS Waiver"). [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-2 at 4; Filing No. 58-4 at 4.] The FSSA's Division of Aging administers the A&D Waiver, while the FSSA's Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services ("BDDS") administers the CIH Waiver and the FS Waiver. [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-2 at 4; Filing No. 58-4 at 4.] An individual may only be enrolled in (and thus receive services from) one waiver program at a time. [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-2 at 4.]

Although not the focus of this lawsuit, individuals with disabilities also receive-in addition to waiver services-what the parties here refer to as prior authorization services. [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-1 at 4.] These are health-related services that are provided wholly apart from the services provided through the Medicaid waiver programs, and, unlike the waiver services, cannot be used to provide services to disabled individuals that allow them to enter into the community. [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-1 at 4.]

Individuals enrolled in any of the waiver programs receive a case manager. [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-2 at 6; Filing No. 58-4 at 6.] To determine both the type and amounts of services an enrollee will receive through the waiver program, the case manager, the enrollee, and the enrollee's guardian evaluate the enrollee's particular circumstances to identify the enrollee's specific needs. [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-2 at 6; Filing No. 58-4 at 6.] The enrollee then submits her plan to the appropriate administrating agency-either the Division of Aging or BDDS-which can either approve or deny the request for services. [ Maertz Case Filing No. 58-2 at 6; ...


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