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State's high court rules area agencies did nothing wrong in ending man's services

Keene Sentinel - 12/21/2018

Dec. 21--CONCORD -- The state's highest court recently ruled in favor of two local agencies after a New Ipswich man appealed the cessation of his services.

The N.H. Supreme Court announced its decision Dec. 7 after hearing the case in late October.

Kyle Guillemette, 27, receives developmental disability services through a Medicaid waiver program, according to the ruling. Monadnock Developmental Services coordinates Guillemette's plan for services as the area agency, but his day services were provided through Monadnock Worksource, the court document notes.

Worksource is a nonprofit organization that provides services to people with developmental disabilities with funding from Monadnock Developmental Services and, according to the ruling, a master agreement between the two organizations.

Guillemette received services from Monadnock Developmental Services that were provided by Worksource through a contract, so both organizations were named in his petition for an appeal.

Worksource began providing day services to Guillemette in August 2012, the ruling says. But on March 31, 2017, the organization sent a letter to Monadnock Developmental Services that said his services would be terminated "as of midnight on April 30" in the best interest of Guillemette and Worksource, according to the decision. MDS notified Guillemette's mother, who serves as his guardian, on April 3, the ruling says. The Supreme Court decision does not specify the mother's name.

A little more than a week later, the mother asked Worksource to reconsider its decision, but the organization's executive director declined in a letter April 18, according to the ruling.

"As you, the guardian, have repeatedly and recently expressed such deep dissatisfaction with our services to your son, the Board and I feel that you and (Guillemette) would be better served by another agency," the director wrote, according to the court document.

Guillemette filed a complaint with the state's Office of Client and Legal Services, alleging that his services had been terminated improperly, according to the Dec. 7 ruling, and an investigator in that office determined Worksource didn't follow proper procedure for terminating services. State law dictates a client must receive 30 days notice of termination of services.

Worksource "declined to accept" that determination, the ruling notes, and took the matter to the Bureau of Developmental Services, which overturned the investigator's findings.

Guillemette appealed that decision to the Administrative Appeals Unit of the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, which ruled in Worksource's favor.

The appeals unit found that the issue was not about the notification to the client but the definition of "termination." The Supreme Court agreed.

The court notes that "it is undisputed that Worksource failed to comply with the notice requirements set forth" in state law for a services termination, but the disagreement lies in whether the organization needed to.

The defendants -- Monadnock Developmental Services, Worksource and the Bureau of Developmental Services -- argued the cessation of services is not equivalent to termination. Worksource suggested Guillemette "would be better served by another agency," but day services are still available to him through other organizations, the ruling notes.

The decision adds that termination, according to state law, means the client no longer needs or can't pay for services in general, regardless of provider.

"Rather, Worksource stopped providing day services to the petitioner because it believes that he would be better served by another provider agency; in other words, because Worksource no longer desires to provide such services to the petitioner," the ruling says.

Under that definition, the court affirmed the Administrative Appeals Unit's decision, agreeing that Worksource didn't terminate any services and therefore wasn't bound by any notice obligations.

"We believe the Court decided this case correctly, but otherwise have no further comment," Worksource Executive Director Janis King wrote in an emailed statement Dec. 7.

Monadnock Developmental Services did not respond to an emailed request for comment. Guillemette could not be reached for comment.

Sierra Hubbard can be reached at 355-8546 or at shubbard@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @SierraHubbardKS.

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(c)2018 The Keene Sentinel (Keene, N.H.)

Visit The Keene Sentinel (Keene, N.H.) at www.sentinelsource.com

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