Pennsylvania Health Law Project: Helping People in Need Get the Health Care They Deserve

PHLP's Commonwealth Court Victory Continues Vital In-Home Care for a Young Man with Huntington’s Disease

Transition from children's to adult health services is an important issue, especially for young people with disabilities and their families. PHLP recently represented Sam, a 22-year-old from Bucks County who is living with Huntington’s disease as well as developmental delays and physical disabilities. Because of his multiple complex conditions and the level of care he requires, Medicaid paid for a highly trained behavioral aide to provide much-needed behavioral supports and nursing for his medical needs during Sam's adolescence. 

Sam at the grocery store
At the age of 21, however, Sam transitioned from child Medicaid to an adult program called a Home and Community Based Services waiver, which changed the way he received his services. Sam’s parents wanted to keep the same skilled and trusted aide who had been caring for Sam, but the state denied the request. Instead, they approved only a few hours per week with a less-trained aide who would be unequipped to help Sam deal with his complex medical and behavioral issues.

Without the vital support and assistance that he had gotten from his previous aide, Sam's community activities were severely curtailed and with his growing frustration, his behaviors became more challenging, making it more difficult for his family to care for him. Sam's parents knew they had to appeal the decision, so they called PHLP.
PHLP represented Sam in an appeal of the state's decision, and took that appeal all the way to Commonwealth Court, which succeeded in getting the state to reinstate Sam’s highly skilled aide. 

“There are not proper words to express our gratitude and thanks for all [PHLP] has done for Sam," said his parents. "Our goal has been to give our son the best life possible, to keep him at home with us as long as possible, and that’s what PHLP has helped us to do.”

Fran Chervenak Receives 2012 PLAN Excellence Award

Fran Chervenak accepts her Excellence Award
Fran Chervenak, PHLP’s Director of Client Services and Managing Attorney of the Pittsburgh office, was honored by the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) at its annual awards banquet. Fran has dedicated her entire career to legal services. Prior to joining PHLP in 1998, she worked at the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis.

Fran has helped thousands of individual clients during her time at PHLP and has a reputation as a competent, caring advocate and a terrific mentor and teacher. Fran provides counsel to the Consumer Subcommittee of the Medical Assistance Advisory Committee as well as the consumers appointed to the state’s Medical Assistance Transportation Advisory Committee. She is an expert on the delivery of health care to Pennsylvania’s dual eligible population.

Fran’s passion for the clients we serve and her work are remarkable. She thinks she’s just doing her job but those of us who work with her and clients who have worked with her know that is a real understatement. To see PLAN’s tribute video to Fran, click here.

Congratulations to Fran and the other 2012 PLAN Excellence Award Winners!
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PHLP in The News

States' Takes Vary on Health Law's Medicaid Expansion, Newsworks, 3/27/12

PA Cracks Down on Fraud in Medicaid Billing, PA Independent, 3/26/12

Family Caught Up in Red Tape, Delaware County Daily Times, 4/7/12

What We're Reading

Down the Insurance Rabbit Hole, New York Times, April 4, 2012 

Health Tracking Poll: Exploring the Public's Views on the Affordable Care Act, Kaiser Family Foundation Interactive Feature

Dual Eligible Demonstration Projects: Top Ten Priorities for Consumer Advocates, Community Catalyst, April 2012 

A Guide to the Medicaid Appeals Process, Kaiser Family Foundation, March 2012

Spotlight on Advocacy

DPW still plans to implement Medical Assistance copays for families of children with disabilities. Go to our website to learn more and find out how you can help.

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The Pennsylvania Health Law Project is a nationally recognized expert and consultant on access to health care for low-income consumers, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. PHLP engages in direct advocacy on behalf of individual consumers while working on the kinds of health policy changes that promise the most to the Pennsylvanians in greatest need.
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