S.A.H. ex rel. S.J.H v. Department of Social & Health Services

136 Wn. App. 342 (2006)

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S.A.H. ex rel. S.J.H v. Department of Social & Health Services

Washington Court of Appeals
136 Wn. App. 342 (2006)

Facts

S.H. was born in 1994 with autism and was a Medicaid recipient. S.H.’s doctor recommended applied-behavioral-analysis (ABA) therapy, and in 1998 the Colville School District agreed to provide S.H. with ABA therapy in his home. The school district did not adequately staff or oversee the ABA-therapy program. Ms. H. (plaintiff), S.H.’s mother, withdrew S.H. from the school district in 2000. In 2001, Ms. H began taking S.H. to Richland for ABA therapy. At Ms. H.’s request, the Department of Social & Health Services (department) (defendant) paid for the cost of transportation, including food and lodging, for Ms. H., S.H., and S.H.’s two siblings, to stay in Richland during the week and return to Colville on weekends. In 2003, the department denied Ms. H.’s request for continued transportation assistance. The department notified Ms. H. that Colville School District officials had committed to making ABA therapy available to S.H. and that the transportation services to Richland would not be terminated before the therapy was available in Colville. Ms. H. appealed the department’s decision. It was undisputed that ABA therapy was a necessary treatment to correct or ameliorate S.H.’s mental condition of autism. An administrative-law judge reversed the department’s decision, concluding that the nonexistent potential Colville ABA program could not be as effective as the available treatment in Richland. The department filed a petition for review of the judge’s decision. The board of appeals held that the department was not required to transport the H. family to Richland once ABA therapy was available to S.H. in Colville. The Stevens County Superior Court affirmed the board’s decision. Ms. H. appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Schultheis, J.)

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