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Advocacy Facilities Home and Community Based Long Term Services and Support News Overview

Marsters Lawsuit

Overview for Providers – Bringing People Home

Attorneys (Stephen Schwartz and Kathy Walker from the Center for Public Representation) for the plaintiffs have prepared a webinar presentation, Bringing People Home – Understanding the Settlement Agreement in Marsters v. Healey. The presentation targets individuals who have regular communication with nursing facility residents in order to brief them on the goals of the lawsuit and the provisions of the Settlement Agreement. These individuals include, but are not limited to, transition case managers, nurse assessors, options counselors, ombuds staff, and similar personnel who are employed by Aging Service Access Points, Independent Living Centers, and Area Agencies on Aging as well as advocates. The objectives of the webinar and document are to provide sufficient basic information about the Agreement and associated rights which can be communicated to nursing home residents.

After lengthy negotiations, the Commonwealth and Plaintiffs reached a Settlement Agreement to provide services so that everyone who wants to can come home.

Some key dates remain before the agreement is finalized:

  • May 31: Deadline for objections to be filed
  • June 17: Fairness Hearing at 3:00 p.m. in Boston
  • Unknown: Judge Gorton’s decision about final approval of the Agreement

Notice to Class

April: The Notice to Class is being distributed to all residents of nursing homes in Massachusetts.

If you object to the Settlement Agreement you must send your objections in writing to the Court and Plaintiffs’ counsel by May 31, 2024.

Marsters Lawsuit Settlement Agreement Reached

April 16, 2024

Today, the Settlement Agreement regarding the Marsters v. Healey lawsuit was announced. A Plain Language version of the Settlement Agreement (pdf) is also available.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of disabled persons residing in Massachusetts nursing homes who wanted assistance to return to living in the community as called for in the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead Decision.

Dignity Alliance Massachusetts has hailed the Agreement as well as a resolution adopted when the lawsuit was filed in October 2022. Please read the summary of the Agreement and the text of the lawsuit.

Congratulations to the plaintiffs including Mass Senior Action Council and their attorneys, the Center for Public Representation, Greater Boston Legal Services, Justice for Aging, and Foley Hoag

Boston Globe on Agreement April 2024

Dignity Alliance Massachusetts and Its Partners Support Resolution of the Complaint Underlying the Class Action Suit filed by the Center for Public Representation Charging Massachusetts with Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Medicaid Act

November 30, 2023

Download the DignityMA Support Statement (pdf)

WHEREAS, Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices, written by the National Conference of State Legislatures in conjunction with the AARP Public Policy Institute, reported that nearly 90 percent of persons aged 65 and older wish to stay in their home for as long as possible, and 80 percent believe their current residence is where they will always live; and
WHEREAS, Over 20,000 persons with disabilities, utilizing Medicaid, are institutionalized in nursing facilities in the Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, The Covid 19 pandemic led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of nursing facility residents nationwide, particularly in nursing facilities that serve Black and Brown communities; and
WHEREAS, The Commonwealth must provide an informed choice process for thousands of residents in nursing facilities who can and want to live in the community supported by long-term residential services and support for living in the community; and
WHEREAS, In response to this need and the tragedy that results from not addressing this need, Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, a statewide, non-profit coalition advocating for older adults and people with disabilities, commits to transforming and improving the long-term care system in Massachusetts and reducing reliance on institutional settings such as nursing facilities, supporting the development of various alternatives, such as small homes, supervised apartments, and vouchers for housing; and
WHEREAS, Dignity Alliance strongly supports the recent class action lawsuit brought by the Center for Public Representation (CPR) and its partners, Greater Boston Legal Services, Justice in Aging, and Foley Hoag, that seeks to compel the Commonwealth to expand its existing residential and community programs so that people with disabilities, including older adults, in nursing facilities can make informed choices and have meaningful options to live successfully in the community; and
WHEREAS, The lawsuit rightly challenges the Commonwealth for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Medicaid Act because it fails to provide community residential services and support, forcing thousands of people with disabilities to live in segregated nursing facilities rather than in the community; AND
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WHEREAS, The Commonwealth can remedy these violations since it successfully transitioned over 3,000 people with intellectual disabilities and brain injuries to the community in response to two prior lawsuits, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT;
RESOLVED, That Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, its partners, and stakeholders, will work collaboratively with CPR, its partners, and the Administration to ensure that this lawsuit results in systemic reforms, providing that people with disabilities, including older adults, are no longer unnecessarily institutionalized in nursing facilities; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That Dignity Alliance urges the Commonwealth, and its newly elected Governor and Attorney General, to work with the plaintiffs in negotiating the systemic remedies needed to achieve these reforms and to comply with the ADA, as it has done previously in the two previous lawsuits, and further urges the Commonwealth to be bold, just, and compassionate and take the lead and do for those with disabilities, including older adults, in nursing homes what it has done for those with intellectual disabilities.
This statement has been endorsed by fifty-three individual and organizational members of Dignity Alliance Massachusetts.

Boston Globe Support: Editorial October 27

Help people with disabilities live in the
community
by The Editorial Board, October 27, 2023

Unnecessary segregation in nursing homes ‘has been linked to
accelerated mental, emotional, and physical decline’ when residents
have little autonomy and little ability to engage in outside activities, a
lawsuit says.