Terminating Attendant Care Services for a Disabled Person Without a Hearing

In Lawson v. Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, 744 A.2d 804 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000), Lawson, who is a C-5 quadriplegic, argued that he did not receive a de novo hearing when he appealed the decision of Homemaker Services of the Metropolitan Area, Inc. (Homemaker) to terminate his attendant care services. Homemaker provided these services as a contractor of Department of Public Welfare (DPW). The Court agreed with Lawson and stated that: The Hearing Officer reviewed the investigation and conclusions of Homemaker for an "abuse of discretion" or an "arbitrary and capricious action." ... The Hearing Officer does not make any finding of fact as to whether the allegations against [Lawson] are true but rather concludes that [Homemaker's Executive] Director reasonably exercised his professional judgement to reach his conclusions. Since the Hearing Officer applied an appellate court standard of review, giving deference to the findings of fact and credibility determinations of Homemaker, the investigation by Homemaker served both a prosecutorial and adjudicatory function, which is a violation of due process. Id. at 807. Accordingly, the Court vacated the decision of the hearing officer and remanded the case for a proper de novo hearing. However, because the hearing officer had already developed an extensive record, we stated that the hearing officer did not need to take any more testimony. Rather, we instructed the hearing officer to make a new decision based on the record already developed.