October marks the beginning of National Special Needs Law Month! Let’s start celebrating with some good news about an Oklahoma law that is facing criticism and will likely be struck down.
House Bill 2899 was passed in Oklahoma last May and the law took effect July 1. The new law imposed a five-year residency requirement for special needs applicants to be able to apply for in-home and community-based services. Meaning, those with special needs would have to live in Oklahoma for five years before being eligible to apply for these important services.
While a five-year waiting list may seem outrageous, the truth is that Oklahoma already has a waiting list for waiver services for developmental and intellectual disabilities services. The current list has almost 6,000 people on it; the wait time is more than a decade. This new law sought to address the current wait list by imposing a residency requirement.
On June 1, various advocacy groups alerted Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to the new law and urged CMS to strike it down. In response, CMS sent a letter to Oklahoma stating that they are not permitted to carry out that new law. CMS stated the law is unconstitutional based upon the 14th Amendment, which requires states to treat new residents in the same manner as they do long-term residents. In addition, certain federal regulations prohibit states from denying benefits to a person just because that person hasn’t resided in the state for a given time period.
While disability advocates are praising CMS’s response to the Oklahoma law, it has yet to be seen what exactly Oklahoma will do in response. Will they acquiesce? Or will a legal battle ensue? Hopefully the former.
Add Value to Your Firm with Special Needs Planning
We can’t think of a better way to celebrate National Special Needs Law Month than to educate more attorneys in this practice area. Join us for an upcoming special needs planning event! We have an intro course so you can get your feet wet in one webinar. Or jump in and attend both by registering for the Immersion Camp for the ultimate experience.