State’s Cost Cuts Will Kill Son, Dad Says

PHOENIX (CN) – A deaf and blind man whose lungs need round-the-clock mechanical assistance will die if Arizona enacts its money-saving scheme to cut his home health care benefits from 365 days to 7, the family claims in Maricopa County Court.

     Michael Lundergan has bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a lung disorder that has required him to be on a ventilator all his life, his father says. His father, Robert Lundergan, a state employee, says the Arizona Department of Administration and its benefits manager, Philip Hamilton, reduced his in-home health care from 8,760 hours per year to 168.
     Lundergan says Hamilton first reduced the Lundergans benefits in July 2007, sending them a letter stating that the state would stop making payments for Michael’s health care services in August 2007, and that they would have to rely on United HealthCare, their health plan vendor, for benefits.
     United HealthCare then reduced Michael’s care from 24 hours to 2 hours per day, according to the complaint.
     The Lundergans complained they were not given advance notice and sued Arizona, United HealthCare and Hamilton. The defendants settled in March 2008 and continued Michael’s original health-care services.
     But on July 29 this year the Lundergans got another letter from Hamilton, saying that United HealthCare would no longer serve state employees, and that Michael’s service would be reduced from 8,760 hours to 168 hours per year.
     Michael Lundergan was born in September 1987 with undeveloped lungs. He has been on a ventilator all of his life, has a tracheostomy, requires oxygen and humidity levels to be constantly monitored and his lungs suctioned repeatedly each day.
     The Lundergans seek a temporary restraining order to stop the state from cutting Michael’s health service, because it could place his “life in imminent danger.”
     The Lundergans are represented by Robert M. Gregory.

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