Lujan Grisham Administration, as Lawsuit Defendant, Refuses to Provide Necessary Nursing Care for Medically Fragile Children in New Mexico

The Day Governor Lujan Grisham Took Credit for Ending a 35-years-old Disabilities Lawsuit, She Failed to Mention Her Administration Was Being Sued for Not Providing Vital Nursing Services to Medically Fragile Children.

It was the Spring of 2022, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s re-election campaign effort had shifted into full-throttle. The Governor, over the course of several weeks, rattled off campaign friendly announcements, such as the launch of recreational cannabis sales; unprecedented federal and state funding for an important rural water supply project in Eastern New Mexico; $60 million to further economic development in the Borderplex; $107 million in capital outlay funding for New Mexico first responders and communities; expanding free child care to over 30,000 families, and pledging $10 million to expand child care supply …

Then, on April 28, 2022, her communications team at the Roundhouse released a statement regarding the dismissal of the 35-years-old Jackson lawsuit which was supposed to end the state government’s inadequate care of, and discriminatory practices against, developmentally disabled New Mexicans.

The Governor also announced the end of the so-called waiting list of thousands of New Mexicans in need of services provided by the state under what are known as Developmental Disabilities Waiver programs.

“This issue is one that’s close to my heart. No family should be without the support they need, which is why my administration has focused on fixing the system, including delivering funding to eliminate the waitlist for the Developmental Disabilities Waiver and expanding services,” the Governor said according to the press release.

Her press release ended with this:

Above all, the state will continue to work to ensure that vulnerable New Mexicans and their families receive the resources they need to live healthy, happy, productive and meaningful lives.”

The same day she made that announcement, Lujan Grisham’s Secretary of Human Services was being sued for failure to provide medically necessary nursing services by the mothers of three medically fragile children.

The lawsuit, identifying these children by their initials due to their age, describes them and their medical conditions as follows:

Plaintiff a nine-year-old girl diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, epilepsy, and global developmental delays” and who “experiences seizures every day, often requiring oxygen assistance and an emergency intervention plan for seizure activity lasting longer than 5 minutes…”

NOTE: On May 12, 2023, Amariz Cortez, Plaintiff A.C., died. Her parents wrote at that time, “Amariz, just by being who she was and through her promptings, brought lessons of love, reverence for life, and a sacredness to humanity no matter where she went. As her last work, Amariz gave the gift of life to several other people by donating her organs.

Plaintiff C.V. “is a three-year-old boy whose medical diagnoses include: Trisomy 21, nonmosaicism (meiotic nondisjunction); Seizure activity refractory to multiple medications; Developmental delay, and Gastrostomy tube dependence. He also attends preschool at the New Mexico School for the Blind.”

Plaintiff M.G. “is a 3-year-old Medically Fragile Waiver participant She is diagnosed with
Chronic Lung Disease, Esophageal Reflux, Global Developmental Delay, Periventricular
Leukomalacia, Generalized Seizure Disorder, for which she requires feeding by gastrostormy
tube, H/O tracheostormy, and ventilator dependency.”

The litigation was filed on April 28, 2022, by attorneys from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Disability Rights New Mexico, on behalf of the three mothers of these children, due to failure of state agencies to provide services and guard against the discrimination of disabled persons.

The complaint states, among other things, that:

“By failing to take necessary action to arrange for medically necessary private duty nursing services, Defendant Scrase has discriminated against qualified individuals with disabilities, such as Plaintiffs and Class members … and has subjected Plaintiffs, Class members and other qualified individuals with disabilities to the risk of unnecessary institutionalization. Defendant Scrase’s actions are in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,29 U.S.C. § 794.”

Almost two years later, instead of ensuring “that vulnerable New Mexicans and their families receive the resources they need to live healthy, happy, productive and meaningful lives” as promised in her press release of the same day that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of these children and others, the Governor has allowed her new Secretary of the Human Services Department, Kari Armijo, to continue the administration’s efforts to dismiss the suit.