The state of Alabama has agreed to settle a nearly decade-old lawsuit over the lengthy waiting list for services with people with intellectual disabilities.
The class action lawsuit was filed in 2000 and accused Alabama of violating the Medicaid Act by not having enough services available.
The settlement agreement does not force the state to spend more money on services but does require that the state provide a centralized telephone number, quick notification and an appeals process to families seeking services.
James Tucker, an attorney with the Alabama Disability Advocacy Program, said the settlement agreement will make the system more "consumer friendly."
Alabama will provide a centralized telephone number for people to contact about receiving services, let applicants know within 90 days if they have been deemed eligible for services, provide people annual updates of their status and provide an appeals process.
"Practically, the agreement provides a more comprehensive notification process for individuals seeking supports and/or services by providing a centralized resource for families to access as they begin the application process," said John Ziegler, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
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