On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, at least one person in New Mexico was working: attorney Marina Cordova. On May 30, Cordova and her client, a care provider for people with developmental disabilities called Grace Requires Understanding
, filed for an injunction
against New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil
, Developmental Disabilities Supports Division Director Mikki Rogers
, Gov. Bill Richardson
, Attorney General Gary King
and Human Services Department Secretary Kathryn Falls
Why? GRU claims the DOH acted unconstitutionally by requiring certain disability caregivers to pay back more than they made
when they wanted a break.
It's a complicated situation, but here's the bottom line: Family living providers,
who are often parents or relatives of disabled people who have then trained to care for them at home, make $2,150 a month.
(That money comes from Medicaid and is administered by the DOH.) If you consider in-home care a 24-hour job, then that breaks down to $2.95 an hour.
But according to an October 2009 memo from Rogers that's included in the court documents, those same caregivers have to pay $5 an hour back to the DOH when they want a break.
GRU, which provides both family living and "respite" (break-time) services, says that's unfair. What's more, GRU alleges that the DOH made the $5 decision without public input or federal approval
—not to mention some studies to determine whether the amount was appropriate.
With family living providers entitled to hundreds of hours of respite each year, GRU, which is owned and operated by 108 family living providers, is worried that $5 an hour is too steep.
"Can you imagine all that money
they'll have to pay back?" Victor Duran, the president of GRU's board, says. "That's a lot of money."
Indeed, one of Cordova's points of argument is that going forward with a $5/hour reimbursement could all but bankrupt GRU. SFR is waiting from calls back from Cordova and the DOH, but we'll fill you in as soon as we know more.