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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Anthony Dubois, right, talks with Harold Peterson, who is helping him with legal advice, prior to a hearing at the Department of Health and Human Services, December 20, 2011,
  • Staff file photo

    Joe DuBois, left, and his son, Anthony, right, wait for a hearing at the Department of Health and Human Services in December 2011. The appointment was one of many that the DuBoises had to attend to continue Anthony's benefits
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Anthony Dubois, second from left, testifies alongside his legal adviser Harold Peterson during a hearing at the Department of Health and Human Services, December 20, 2011,
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    With medical equipment hanging off the back of his wheelchair Anthony Dubois heads in to a hearing at the Department of Health and Human Services, December 20, 2011. "I do not want to be sent somewhere to save a buck," he said. "I am a human being, not a cost-saving opportunity. Go to www.nashuatelegraph.com to watch a video of his testimony to the agency.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nashua man fights to keep same level of state-funded home health care

NASHUA – All eyes in the cramped meeting room had set on Anthony DuBois.

“I would simply disappear,” DuBois told an arbitrator at a hearing at the Department of Health and Human Services in Nashua last week. Dubois, 35, has muscular dystrophy and is fighting state cuts to the cost of his home care. DuBois, a Nashua resident, claims that if cuts set forth in a DHHS proposal go through, he will have no choice but to live in a facility.

“My quality of life would be greatly diminished, along with my independence,” DuBois said, with a nurse, family and friends by his side.

The state, citing privacy issues, will not detail much of its proposal to DuBois. But Kathleen Larney, an attorney for DHHS, said the state is not trying to take away all of DuBois’ services, nor is it trying to place him in a facility. The home health care cost proposal given to DuBois, in fact, “is to keep him eligible for the program,” Larney said.

At the hearing held last Tuesday, DuBois read aloud four pages of testimony that highlighted his life’s achievements and dreams. He also detailed the many hours he and nurses spend each day ensuring he stays alive.

Between moving him for bathing and bed rest at night – which requires a change in ventilators – taking medication, performing medical tests, and monitoring his breathing and blood sugar, DuBois needs around-the-clock care. That’s not to mention the help he receives shopping, mailing bills and other tasks.

Along with muscular dystrophy, DuBois has diabetes and a few other ailments. He can’t breathe without a ventilator and can hardly move his hands.

Despite these physical limitations, DuBois earned a bachelor of science degree in business, hopes to obtain a master’s degree and maybe even run for Congress. He believes he is a productive member of society and wants to continue pursuing his goals and not be confined to a nursing home.

DuBois has appealed the state’s proposal, and an arbitrator listened to DuBois’ testimony, as did a DHHS attorney, at last week’s hearing. DuBois is waiting for the arbitrator’s decision on the future of his level of home care. DuBois said if he does have to live in a facility, it would probably be Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield.

Prior to last week’s hearing, DuBois discussed the possible change in his care at a crowded public hearing in April at the Statehouse in Concord. Lawmakers heard DuBois and others talk about the possible diminishment in care they would face because of state budget cuts that took effect this year. The Telegraph has also profiled DuBois in several other stories that focused on the consequences of the budget cuts.

But Larney said DHHS’ proposal on DuBois’ home care is not a result of the recent round of state budget cuts. Rather, it is DHHS following a state statute on long-term care costs, she said.

The law, RSA 151-E:11, establishes program management and costs for people in nursing facilities and mid-level and home-based care.

The section of that law that applies to DuBois states no one whose care costs exceed 80 percent of the average annual cost of someone in a nursing facility shall be approved for home-based services without the prior approval of DHHS’ commissioner.

Larney would not say when DHHS made its cost of care proposal to DuBois, nor much else about his case, but she did say his appeal of the proposal started January 2010.

“The reason (DHHS) proposed a reduction is to keep him eligible for the program,” Larney said.

DuBois said the state has estimated the weekly cost of nursing facility care for him would be $3,500. If the state proposed to pay for 80 percent of DuBois’ home care at that $3,500 amount, it means he would receive roughly $2,800 weekly to cover his care.

DuBois said his home care costs around $8,500 per week.

He lives alone in an apartment in his parents’ Grenada Drive basement. His father, Joe DuBois, relies on a motorized wheelchair for health reasons, and says he can’t help his son. Joe DuBois has always had his son handle his affairs to prepare him for the day when his father won’t be around.

The arbitrator, Melinda Ferland, will issue a decision on Anthony DuBois’ appeal within 30 days after the final hearing, which was scheduled for last Thursday, Joe DuBois said.

Ferland scribbled notes and recorded the testimony of Anthony DuBois and others at last Tuesday’s hearing. Both sides discussed medical procedures, costs of certain services and other details of DuBois’ care.

Aside from stripping him of his independence, a nursing facility wouldn’t match the standard of care that he has now, DuBois said. And his high level of care is not accounted for in the state’s cost comparison, he said.

“I don’t want to be sent somewhere to save a buck,” DuBois told Ferland. “I am a human being, not a cost-saving opportunity, and I have something to contribute to society. I want to work, pay taxes, get married, and create jobs and opportunities for others.”

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-6528 or amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com. Also check out McKeon (@Telegraph_AMcK) on Twitter.