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BOSTON — Three brain-injured Massachusetts residents and a local brain injury advocacy group filed a class action lawsuit in a Massachusetts federal court yesterday against the governor and four other high-ranking officials for violating federal laws by institutionalizing brain injured people instead of providing community-based services. The lawsuit filed in Massachusetts federal court in Springfield claims that Governor Deval Patrick and the other state officials are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act’s integration mandate, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Social Security Act. The lawsuit claims that at least a quarter of more than 8,000 brain injured people living in nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities are capable of living in community settings with supports. Hutchinson v. Patrick, No. 07-30084 (D. Mass.) The lawsuit seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring the defendants to take several remedial actions, including: create a plan to provide community settings and supports to the brain injured; implement the plan so that the brain injured can be placed within five years; provide Medicaid-covered rehabilitative services to nursing home and rehabilitation residents; and provide community services options to all class members and brain injured nursing home and rehabilitation center residents and their families and guardians. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr Boston litigation partner Richard Johnston and the Massachusetts public interest law firm Center for Public Representation are both representing the plaintiffs on a pro bono basis. “Their brain injuries are life-changing and profound, but they don’t deserve or need to be relegated to a lifetime of institutional care,” Johnston said. In a statement, the secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, JudyAnn Bigby, one of the defendants on the complaint, said the state would respond to the specific allegations in court. “We are, first and foremost, committed to providing the highest quality of care for all residents of Massachusetts, particularly those with special needs,” Bigby said. Bigby also said the state spends $900 million annually on various community-based long-term care services and its Medicaid program, MassHealth, covers various community-based medical services that other states do not. The state is also applying for additional funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to fund additional residential rehabilitation programs for the disabled and elderly.

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