At-a-Glance Contributor Katharine J. Phinney Practices family law at Russman Law Office in Concord, New Hampshire

NH Dept. of Health & Human Services

No. 2018-0092
NH Dept. of Health & Human Services
Dec. 7, 2018

  •      Whether a “termination” of services occurred when a provider agency for developmental disability services ceased providing day services to the petitioner thus triggering the notice requirements under RSA 171-A:8, III and Rule 310.07.

The petitioner is the recipient of developmental disability services coordinated through an area agency named MDS. The provider agency, Worksource, provided these services to the petitioner under a “Master Agreement” with MDS. The petitioner began receiving day services in August, 2012. On March 31, 2017, Worksource notifed MDS that it was terminating services for the petitioner on April 30, 2017. The petitioner’s mother and guardian wrote to Worksource asking the agency to reconsider its decision. Worksource responded and explained its position, stating that the petitioner would be “better served by another agency.” The petitioner filed a complaint with the Office of Client and Legal Services and upon an investigation, the investigator found that Worksource had in fact failed to comply with the applicable rules when terminating services to a client. The Bureau of Developmental Services reviewed the investigator’s determination upon request by Worksource and ultimately overturned the investigator’s determination. The petitioner then appealed the Bureau’s decision to the AAU. The AAU conducted its own investigation and found that while Worksource was bound by the requirements under the rules, those requirements did not apply because a “termination”of services did not occur within the meaning of the rules. The AAU denied the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration and the petition for a writ of certiorari was filed.

Upon review by the Supreme Court, it was undisputed that Worksource failed to comply with the notice requirements under RSA 171-A:8, III and Rule 310.07. The dispute was whether or not Worksource had to comply with those requirements at all, as these requirements would only be required if a “termination” occurred. Worksource argued that a cessation of services to an individual by a provider agency is not a ‘termination’ under the rules, and while Worksource ceased to provide services to the petitioner, it does not have the authority to issue a termination of services as the authority rests with the area agency. The petitioner argued that Worksource terminated his services thus triggering the notice requirements under the rules. The Supreme Court held that Worksource did not “terminate” day services to the petitioner from any provider because the petitioner no longer needed them or should not otherwise be provided the services. Rather, Worksource ceased providing day services because the agency believed that the petitioner would be better served by another provider agency. Therefore, a “termination” of services did not occur and the notice requirements under RSA 171-A:8, III and Rule 310.07 were not applicable.

James Ziegra of Disability Rights Center-NH, for the petitioner. Karyn P. Forbes and Alexander W. Campbell of Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. of Concord, for Monadnock Worksource. John D. MacIntosh of Concord, for Monadnock Developmental Services. Gordon J. MacDonald, attorney general (Laura E.B. Lombardi, senior assistant attorney general) for the New Hampshire Dept. of Health & Human Services, Bureau of Developmental Services.