NJP News | Volume 1 | Issue 4

Disabled Children Sue Health Care Authority Seeking Skilled Nursing Services
NJP is representing four young, disabled children in federal court to require the Health Care Authority (HCA) to ensure a sufficient number of skilled nurses to meet their medical needs. One of the children has never been able to live at home because of the lack of skilled nursing services. Three of the children live in Eastern Washington. On any given day dozens of disabled children with complex health care needs languish in high cost institutions, group homes or hospitals, or are at high risk of hospitalization even though in-home, community based care is less expensive and more beneficial to the long-term well-being of the children. Skilled nursing care allow these children to come home or avoid hospitalization, avoids the emotional toll for the families, and also makes it possible for some parent to work instead of having to stay home to monitor their children's health. Scott Crain, of NJP's Medical Legal Partnership
argues that HCA is violating the requirements of Medicaid's Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment mandate by failing to provide sufficient skilled nursing services for these children and scores of other children around the state.

Legally Blind Mother Cannot Be Presumed Unfit Due To Her Eyesight 
The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a legally blind immigrant mother and overturned a trial court's ruling that because of her impaired eyesight, the father need not show adequate cause to ask for modification of the parenting plan, simply based solely on speculation the mother's eyesight may affect her parenting abilities in the future. The Court of Appeals found that the ruling was not based on any evidence of the mother's unfitness to parent the child. The decision ends protracted litigation that spanned two trials and two appeals and had national implications. The National Federation of the Blind appeared as an amicus (friend of the court) and its brief was cited by the Court of Appeals in its decision. Beth Helm, NJP-King County, represented the (now) very happy mother.

Congressman Kilmer Featured Speaker at Veterans Service Provider Community Forum
Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-6th) spoke at a September 21st Veteran Service Provider Community Forum addressing access issues of rural veterans in Clallam and Jefferson Counties. Rep. Kilmer noted that Washington's Sixth District had the 5th highest concentration of veterans of any district in the nation and thanked NJP for its work in reaching out to make legal aid services available to veterans on the Olympic Peninsula. Rep, Kilmer also praised NJP for its work providing civil legal aid services to low-income people across the State.
The forum brought together veteran service providers with high level Federal and State Veterans Administration officials, including External Affairs Manager at the Seattle VA Regional Office, Rob Hard, who spoke about access issues related to VA benefits claims, the Director of Health Plan Management at VA Puget Sound, John Beckham, who spoke about the VA CHOICE Program to provide quicker access to health care for rural vets, and representatives from TriWest, VA Community Housing and Outreach Services, and local medical and social service providers for low-income and homeless veterans, all of whom participated in a problem solving session with veteran service providers after the presentationsSamantha Adams, NJP's Veteran Project, organized and facilitated the event, which was co-sponsored by NJP and Veteran Community Partnership.

UPDATE: In July's NJP News we reported on a tremendous victory in securing a first-ever trial court order appointing counsel at public expense as a reasonable accommodation in a hearing before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA). Amy McCullough, NJP-Vancouver, tried the case before Thurston County Superior Court Judge James J. Dixon. We were also preparing to defend the decision as both BIIH and L&I appealed the order. In mid-September, without advance notice, both BIIH and L&I dismissed their appeal, rendering the trial court's appointment of counsel as a reasonable "representational accommodation" final. This is an important chapter in NJP's efforts to secure reasonable accommodations to ensure meaningful access to the administrative appeals process, an effort spearheaded by NJP and the Access to Justice Board's Justice without Barriers Committee. 
To learn more about our work contact Bryan Baker, Director of Development, like us on Facebook, and visit our website where you can access our annual reports and explore more of NJP. Also, please share NJP News with your friends and colleagues so they can join NJP in helping make equal justice a reality in Washington.

CÚsar E. Torres
Executive Director