- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that a Nebraska mother hoped would restore her position as a private-duty nurse for her son who is disabled and autistic.

Dee Shaffer filed appeals with the state Department of Health and Human Services and sued in district court after the state reneged on a contract allowing her to be paid to take care of her son, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1MpyPIX ) reported. The state’s managed care provider, Coventry, had determined that the services weren’t medically necessary.

Shaffer was successful in her lawsuit challenging the state agency on medical necessity ruling, but Coventry appealed. The Supreme Court reversed and vacated the district court order since Coventry wasn’t included as a necessary party.

A Lancaster County District Court judge determined that because of the former court ruling, he couldn’t find that the care was medically necessary.

Shaffer’s attorney said Shaffer can appeal, and that there could be other remedies.

Her son, Brian, has been diagnosed with autism, developmental disabilities, multiple chemical sensitivities, congestive heart failure, food intolerances and scoliosis. Many of his nearly 100 allergies are to fundamental substances found in food and medicines.

In 2006, Shaffer asked the state department to be her son’s paid caretaker. She’s a licensed practical nurse, registered dietitian and licensed medical nutrition therapist.

Then-state Sen. Cap Dierks agreed to introduce a bill in 2007 that would provide financial compensation for care-giving family members, but the state agency stepped in and offered, in lieu of legislation, to hire Shaffer as her son’s primary caregiver and pay her 18 hours a day as a private-duty nurse.

The agreement continued for a few years, but after Dierks left office, the department switched to a managed care company and Shaffer had to reapply to be her son’s primary caregiver.

The department said she no longer could, by state law, be paid for her son’s care. It censured Shaffer for practicing outside the scope of her professional license - using acupuncture to relieve her son’s pain.

The Legislature passed a bill in 2012, clarifying that currently licensed nurses could be hired to provide care for family members.

But Shaffer has not received any payment for her son’s care for nearly four years, and he has received no other skilled nursing care from the state.

Shaffer said at this point, she has used all of her savings in caring for her son on her own.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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