Judge's decision has family searching for more affordable care - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Judge's decision has EC family searching for more affordable care for daughter


Eau Claire (WQOW) - A judge's decision has an Eau Claire family scrambling to find more affordable care for their daughter.

Last summer, a class action lawsuit was filed against three managed care organizations.  They were accused of discrimination by cutting money provided for daily care for those with developmental disabilities, but not for the elderly or other groups.  Last week, a judge dismissed the case. That means one Eau Claire woman, who used to receive $305 per day will see that cut to $190. 

Last summer, WQOW News 18 introduced you to Carrie Ring. Carrie has cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder and low muscle tone. In July, Carrie's managed care organization, Northern Bridges, dropped her daily rate by 45%.  

Carrie's father, Ralph Ring, says, "It would be fine if they had a ten percent cut or something like that, you could maybe live with that. But 45% where she's a one on one person, she's like a giant toddler. That's a lot of cut."

Because of that, Carrie will not be able to keep living in her current adult family home, where she requires around the clock supervision and needs the support of two people to walk. 

"We have to find placement for Carrie which is an ongoing process. And so far, we haven't really found anything that will work for her. But, we're running out of time now," says Carol Ring, Carrie's mother.

Carrie was able to stay until a decision was reached on the lawsuit. Ralph and Carol say they are nervous about finding a good fit.  "She wants to go be active, go see people, that how she lives. That's no life for her, if she were to be sitting in her chair, doing nothing," says Carol.  

Ralph says, "Even her case manager, they saw some of these homes and they just knew instantly that they weren't going to work for Carrie. I mean they are supposed to be able to be with her peers and one place had three 65 year old gentlemen. One, there was one person taking care of three.

Carrie has already tried three other homes before finding the one she's at now. The Rings would like to find something more permanent. Ralph says, "We had Carrie for 28 years, but we're getting older and there are just things we can't do for her because of our age.

Carol says, "If a lawsuit can't do it, what's left? Who's going to care enough to listen to your concerns?"

The lawyer representing the case says it is very likely they will be appealing the case.

The judge who dismissed the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, says under current law, the defendants did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, but did call the situation unfortunate. In her ruling she said "It is unfortunate to say the least, that the most vulnerable members of society have found themselves to be the victims of budget cuts."

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