Massachusetts Settlement to Increase Resources for Mentally Retarded
Massachusetts will increase its spending on housing and services, including respite care, for mentally retarded adults from $29 million to $114 million over the next five years as part of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit announced on Dec. 20, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. The lawsuit was filed last year "on behalf of more than 2,200 retarded adults," some of whom were on a waiting list to receive housing and home care from the state for over 10 years. As part of the agreement, 300 mentally retarded individuals will receive housing and "related services" next year, followed by an additional 1,925 over the next five years, according to plaintiffs' attorney Neil McKittrick (AP/Baltimore Sun, 12/21). These services will include transportation, recreational activities and respite care. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock gave his "preliminary approval" to the settlement, but "expressed concern" that the plan does not help mentally retarded adults who might want to be placed in a residential home in the future but are not currently on a waiting list. He said he intends to hold a hearing to address the settlement's impact on mentally retarded people whose families were not party to the suit. State officials praised the settlement; Attorney General Thomas Reilly said, "This agreement will accomplish the overdue goal of providing relief to families caring for their loved ones with mental disabilities." Health and Human Services Secretary William O'Leary added, "We are providing them with peace of mind that their loved ones will be guaranteed appropriate care." On the plaintiffs' side, McKittrick said his clients were confident that "significant resources will be devoted to eliminating the wait list and that everyone waiting for services will receive them" (Montague, Boston Globe, 12/21).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.