Richard Johnson: Parents Sue Over Texas' Handling of His Health Care

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Parents of a mentally handicapped man with cerebral palsy are suing Texas for cutting him from state-funded health care because he has turned 21.

Richard Johnson requires 24-hour care and taking away his state-funded nursing care would create "an extreme risk of death," according to the lawsuit filed by his parents, Virginia and Thomas Johnson.

Their son is also legally blind and suffers from a wide range of other afflictions, the suit says. He has received 135 hours of nursing care each week under a Texas program, but that will be terminated later this week, they say.

The parents applied for assistance under a different Texas program but were rejected, with officials saying he could be treated by living in a health-care facility.

"Virginia Johnson's home is the only place that Richard has lived since he was 14 months old," the suit says. "According to his treating medical professionals, it is the only place where his complex care needs can be met. Despite this, Texas Medicaid plans to entirely eliminate the life-sustaining private-duty nursing care that Richard has received in his home simply because he has turned 21."

The Johnsons say, "In institutional settings, such as a State Supported Living Center, care is often performed by unlicensed and inadequately trained personnel...Institutionalization would be fatal."

They say they did not get a chance to have a hearing on the state's decision, and are asking the court to order such a procedure.

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