October 11, 2016

NY Health Dept Action Alleges Wrongful Denial of Speech Services

By Ashley Milano

October 11, 2016 Top Class ActionsThe New York State Department of Health wrongly denies speech-generating devices and access aids to Medicaid-eligible children and adults who need these devices to treat their expressive communication disabilities, a proposed class action lawsuit says.

Speech-generating devices or SGDs have typically been covered and provided as Medicaid benefits since the1980s.

There are currently 100-200 individuals in New York state who seek an SGD from Medicaid each year.

However, the NY Health Department has started to deny SGD requests on the basis of a policy lacking objective standards and consistency in determining SGD eligibility, the lawsuit states.

This standard, according to minor plaintiffs BZ and JT and their parent/guardian representatives, is in violation of federal law.

BZ, a 5-year old girl, and JT, a 14-year old boy, were born with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia. As a result of these conditions, the children have a motor speech disorder that renders them unable to speak and effectively communicate their most basic needs, thoughts, or feelings.

Read more in Top Class Actions.

The minor plaintiffs are represented by Leslie Salzman, Jennifer Hwang and Samantha Smith of Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Toby Golick of Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and Lewis Golinker of the Assistive Technology Law Center.