Settlement secures additional $110 million supporting Michiganders with disabilities

This article was originally published in Michigan Advance. Read it here.

Earlier this week the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) and Disability Rights Michigan announced a pending settlement that, if approved, will bring more than $110 million in state spending to Michiganders with intellectual and developmental disabilities who rely on Medicaid Community Living Support services. 

While subject to Legislative and other approvals, the settlement will increase rates for Self Determination Community Living Support service recipients enrolled in the state’s Habilitation Supports Waiver to $31 an hour. Under the Self Determination program, individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities can hire their own staff rather than depending on care agencies. 

The Self Determination rate for Overnight Health and Safety Support services will also increase to 70% of the new Community Living Support Services rate. Both rates will be adjusted for inflation, according to a statement from NCLEJ and Disability Rights Michigan. 

“Our lawsuit was about preventing institutionalization and empowering folks living with [intellectual and developmental disabilities] to thrive in their communities,” Edward Krugman, senior attorney at the National Center for Law and Economic Justice said in a statement. “The huge uptick in funding means that Michiganders who need assistance to get out of the house and into the community will be able to hire and retain their support staff by paying these hardworking caregivers something close to what they deserve.”

The rate increase of $22 million per year will total $110 million in additional state funds over deal’s five-year term, with the Overnight Health and Safety Support services adding to that total. 

According to NCLEJ and Disability Rights Michigan, if the funding or other contingencies are not met by May 2025, an alternative costing-out procedure will ensure Self Determination Community Living Support Service recipients have a sufficient budget to support their individual needs. This procedure will also be implemented when the settlement expires in 2029.

“We brought this suit to challenge budget cuts that threatened our plaintiffs with institutionalization,” Nick Gable, senior attorney at Disability Rights Michigan. “This settlement will ensure that people with developmental disabilities will be able to afford the services they need to thrive in their communities. This system hopefully will now work as it should.”

The settlement is still pending approval by the United States District Court Eastern Michigan District.