The meeting will focus on the Medicaid ARChoices program, the computer algorithms used by the state to determine how much care clients receive, and how individuals affected by the cuts can fight the reductions. Since the Department of Human Services started using computer algorithms in 2016, nearly half of the 8,000 ARChoices program clients have been cut. Individuals with disabilities like cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and quadriplegia have seen cuts in services between 20% and 60%, forcing them to lie in their own waste, skip meals, stay shut in, miss medications, and go without other basic necessities. Although ARChoices is supposed to keep people who are elderly or disabled at home in their communities, the cuts could force people into nursing homes, which cost around three times as much on average as community-based care.
This public education event follows litigation on behalf of over 100 ARChoices clients who have come seeking help in the last year. In 2016, Legal Aid sued DHS in federal court and won, with the judge ruling that DHS did not adequately explain the cuts. After DHS refused to negotiate around remaining problems, DHS was sued again, this time on behalf of seven plaintiffs in state court. In February 2017, a judge granted a temporary restraining order forcing the state to halt the cuts for the seven plaintiffs. Although a trial on the issue was set for July 2017, DHS appealed that ruling, causing the trial to be delayed indefinitely. The appeal is currently pending in the Arkansas Supreme Court.