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North Carolina judge delays order on services for disabled

A picture of a gavel on a table.
Joe Gratz
Flickr Creative Commons

A trial judge has agreed to delay enforcement of his order setting a robust schedule upon which North Carolina health officials must provide significantly more community services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities while the state appeals his ruling.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour, who signed the legal stay dated Thursday, had in November set thresholds that the Department of Health and Human Services would have to meet regularly over the next decade.

Baddour considered these directives as remedies to his 2020 ruling that found too many people with these disabilities were forced to live away from home in violation of state law.

The nonprofit Disability Rights North Carolina and people with disabilities sued in 2017 to seek changes. DHHS has said the order, if carried out fully, could result in the closure of small group homes and force out people content in their current living situations.

In a statement released Friday, DHHS said that even with the delay it would continue to carry out a separate plan designed to provide more community-based services to people with disabilities or behavioral health disorders.

Baddour's order in part required at least 3,000 people must be diverted or shifted to community-based programs by early 2031. And he told DHHS to eliminate by mid-2032 a waiting list of people qualified to participate in a Medicaid-funded program that helps them live at home or outside of an institution.

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