Pro Bono victory secures critical care for 17-year-old client with cerebral palsy
Just a few short months after partnering with Disability Rights Ohio to expand its existing Pro Bono Program for Medicaid Appeals, McDonald Hopkins is celebrating a rewarding victory in which Columbus-based attorney David Ebersole helped a 17-year-old client with cerebral palsy receive the nursing care he desperately needed.
The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) initially denied the young client’s skilled nursing care and proposed replacing it with care provided by unlicensed workers. The proposed care was a dangerous proposition for a child with complex health needs that require nursing judgment to assess and treat. Skilled nursing care was particularly important for this child because his condition left him non-verbal, non-ambulatory, and generally unable to communicate his needs or concerns.
“He has a life-threatening condition…and needs nurses who are capable of assessing his condition and administering the proper medication in the correct dosages,” said Ebersole. “If you give him too much that’s a problem. And you give him too little, it can be more of a problem. The treating physician said it would be dangerous for my client not to have nursing care.”
In June, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services agreed with the young client’s treating physicians that “it is not only inadvisable to reduce Appellant’s nursing [care], but it is dangerous to do so.” Through an Administrative Appeal, the Bureau of State Hearings at ODJFS overturned its own initial decision to uphold the DODD’s denial of nursing care. The child now continues to receive the skilled nursing care he needs.
“It was rewarding and meaningful to use my legal training to make a difference by helping others assert their rights,” said Ebersole.
Disability Rights Ohio teamed up with Nationwide Insurance in 2017 to form the Medicaid Pro Bono program, which provides legal services to Ohio families and children with disabilities. McDonald Hopkins began its partnership with DRO in April, offering the program with a greater opportunity to reach people who are struggling to obtain access to adequate healthcare services and medical equipment.