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Court: New Hampshire erred in Harbor Homes case

The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the state Department of Health and Human Services violated Medicaid provisions when it determined three years ago that a Nashua-based health care provider was ineligible to receive reimbursements.

The health department disqualified Harbor Homes from receiving Medicaid benefits after its interagency agreement with the Greater Nashua Mental Health Center was not renewed.

But the court ruled that the absence of an agreement did not make Harbor Homes any less qualified to provide services.

The justices said the HHS decision violated the federal Medicaid Act’s free-choice-of-provider provision, which permits recipients to secure services “from any institution, agency, community pharmacy or person qualified to perform the services required.”

The court unanimously reversed a lower-court ruling dismissing the lawsuit filed by Harbor Homes and The Disability Rights Center. About 140 Harbor Homes clients were forced to seek other mental health providers.

Attorney General Joe Foster said yesterday he is still reviewing the ruling and has not decided whether to ask the court to reconsider it.

Adrienne Mallinson, attorney for the Disabilities Rights Center, said named plaintiff Gary Dube was “thrilled” about the decision.

She said department’s disqualification of Harbor Homes affected about 140 clients.

Associated Press

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