- Special Needs Alliance - https://www.specialneedsalliance.org -

Not Accepting “No”: Tips on Advocating Change

By James A. Caffry, Esq. [1], Waterbury, Vermont

Government transparency -or the lack of it- is much in the news, and it’s a concept to bear in mind as you advocate on behalf of a loved one with special needs. All of us have been frustrated at one time or another by bureaucracies that don’t offer good reasons for refusing a request. But here’s the thing: since public agencies are funded by taxpayers, they have a legal obligation to explain themselves. In the process, they may provide you with information you can use to forge change.

As an example, the federal Medicaid law and its related regulations allow the states great leeway in designing and implementing the services they choose to deliver with Medicaid funds. In some instances, state policies and practices that shape those services have never been subjected to public review, and you may be in a position to insist that a particular policy be opened to scrutiny. Even if the issue in question has been publicly assessed, you probably have a right to petition for amendment.

There are two laws that can assist you powerfully in this process. Every state has a version of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). APA’s purpose is to involve the public in the rulemaking that determines how our laws are implemented. And the FOIA is a highly effective tool for collecting the information you need in order to do so.

So here’s the drill:

For more details on this process, click here [2].