A new law to help a quadriplegic attorney keep both his job and his nursing care passed on the last day of Maryland's legislative session Monday.
Josh Basile suffered a traumatic injury from the crashing of a wave at Bethany Beach, Delaware, in 2004. With only limited use of his right hand, he uses a mouse device he controls with his mouth and voice-activated technology to practice law at a firm in downtown D.C.
Basile requires around-the-clock nursing or attendant care at his condominium in Bethesda and to maintain his job, but he was at risk of losing his job when he shifts to a state program for people with rare injuries to continue receiving his private nursing care. Basile uses a state Medicaid program, but state law prohibits people who participate in a Medicaid employment program from receiving the nursing benefits.
"If I didn't have a job, I wouldn't be able to pay my rent or my mortgage, so I would have to move into a nursing home," Basile said. "That's a world I don't ever want to live in."
He lobbied state legislators to adjust Maryland disability law, including through testimony at a Senate hearing earlier this year.
Days after a News4 I-Team report, Maryland legislators scrambled to pass a new law to give Basile a three-year reprieve, allowing him and others with rare illnesses access to both their jobs and their nurses.
“Josh came to us, and we knew that we had to fix this problem because it’s an injustice,” said state Sen. Susan Lee, D-Montgomery County, who sponsored the legislation. “We don't want anyone to have to choose between working and receiving vital health support services.”
The law is a short-term fix. As for long-term and future cases, lawmakers will have to revisit it in the 2019 legislative session.
Reported by Scott MacFarlane, produced by Rick Yarborough, and shot and edited by Steve Jones.