Judge: State owes in-home workers $96 million

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) --

The state Department of Social and Health Services will have to pay about 22,000 in-home health care workers almost $96 million.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee issued an order Friday almost a year after a Thurston County jury awarded the workers $57 million in back pay. McPhee added more than $38 million in interest.

DSHS spokesman Thomas Shapley says the agency needed to wait for McPhee's order, and will now move ahead with an appeal of the verdict.

The workers sued after DSHS decided in 2003 to cut payments by 15 percent to Medicaid beneficiaries who had caregivers living in their home, many of whom are relatives. The state argued that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay in-home caregivers for tasks they would perform for their own households.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com