People with disabilities suing DHS after in-home care is cut - KPTV - FOX 12

People with disabilities suing DHS after in-home care is cut

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) is being slapped with a class action lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are Oregon family members with intellectual or developmental disabilities. They claim that the state is cutting their in-home care, at a time when they need it most.

Five people in the lawsuit said their civil rights are being violated after their in-home care hours were cut.

Lawyers said support has been slashed by 30 percent for thousands of people in Oregon.

FOX 12 spoke with a Portland mother who said she is worried that the changes will force her son into an institution, instead of getting care at home.

“We’re the United States, we’re Oregon. We’re supposed to be taking care of our fellow citizens. But we’re so far from where we should be, and now we’re even farther,” said a mother, who wanted to stay anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the lawsuit.

The mother, going by “C.B.," said her sons are autistic. C.B. said both of them rely on the support of in-home care.

“We’re hoping to have some hope, and this lawsuit does bring some hope,” said C.B.

One of her sons requires care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“As far as we know, when he’s 65 he will still be a 5-year-old. Without the funds, he’s going to wind up institutionalized,” said C.B.

FOX 12 was able to speak with C.B.’s other son, T.B. He said the only reason he can communicate with us is because of the support he used to get from DHS.

“Even though I know how to communicate, I need to consciously put the thoughts into English. I often say, speaking is my second language, I don’t think in words most of the time. That’s just because I, from a very young age, was rigorously taught how to actually communicate,” said T.B.

But now lawyers say those hours of care are disappearing.

According to the lawsuit, DHS supplied no individualized explanation for the cuts, justifying them only by citing a needs assessment tool.

“This computer program is deciding the welfare of vulnerable people, it seems wrong,” said C.B.

The suit also states that because people were given no meaningful explanation, it violates their due process.

Lawyers also said ultimately, the cuts in care could lead to Oregon’s most vulnerable being segregated and isolated.

DHS said it cannot comment on lawsuits.

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