Joel’s life changed forever when the deck he was standing on collapsed in 1999 during a college graduation party. Joel was pinned between the second and third floors, and as a result of his injuries, became quadriplegic. He now relies on a team of Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) to live independently, and he has to work a little harder than most of us on his daily routine. For example, it takes him several hours to get ready for each day. And he needs assistance with eating and drinking.
Joel came to Community Legal Aid with a health insurance problem that was seriously affecting his quality of life. Joel had been hospitalized in 2012, and as a result of a tracheotomy, spent months afterwards retraining his mouth and throat muscles to chew and swallow food. Eating was a long, laborious effort, and he needed a PCA to feed him at a pace his body could handle without choking. But his insurer, MassHealth, refused to pay for the extra time he needed a PCA to help him eat. Joel obtained multiple medical opinions, substantiating the potential lethal risks of aspirating his food, but was unable to convince MassHealth to change its decision. In the meantime, he was struggling to pay for the extra PCA time out of his own pocket.
Feeling desperate and taken advantage of, Joel turned to Community Legal Aid. Medha, Joel’s attorney, quickly crafted a sound and innovative argument for Joel’s case, which won at appeal. Joel says, “With Medha’s expertise, she made a quick and dramatic difference. [She] did an amazing job.” He adds, “Donor support for CLA is essential to continue providing services like they did for me.”