Join ACLD in advocating for children and adults with autism, learning and developmental disabilities. Together we can fight harmful budget cuts and service transformations that may impact how we fulfill our mission.
June 6, 2020
Help fight DRASTIC cuts in OPWDD Funding before July 1st!
On May 27, 2020, the Department of Health published a public notice proposing cuts in reimbursement for IRA and ICF residential programs which would:
- Take about $200 million every year from our loved ones with I/DD
- Reduce reimbursement by as much as 7.5% for certain residential programs with significant vacancies, including vacancies due to deaths from COVID-19
- Eliminate the occupancy adjustment resulting from vacancies
- Slash reimbursement by 50% for retainer days when residents are in the hospital or are taking therapeutic leave days for family visits
- Finally, after cutting reimbursement by 50% for leave days, the proposal also would impose an annual “cap” of 96 days of therapeutic leave days, after which reimbursement would be reduced to zero.
I am a (parent/family member/supporter) of a non-profit voluntary agency that provides vital programs and services for adults and children with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities. I am writing to express my vehement opposition to proposed and reckless budget cuts of $238 million (annualized) OPWDD is advancing, which will have significant impact on providers of residential programs who have been on the frontlines of caring for people during this pandemic.
Providers like ACLD have been left to finance the cost of the emergency on their own, without any financial support from the State to meet the increased costs of responding to the impact of the crisis. OPWDD provider agencies have already incurred significant hardships due to the this COVID-19 public health emergency; from challenges with access to testing, staffing vacancies due to illness and family obligations, and PPE shortages. Providers have not been reimbursed for any of these additional expenses, despite Federal funding provided to the State for this very purpose, and are now faced with an unimaginable cut.
These proposed cuts will severely limit funding for individuals simply because they require hospitalizations due to medical or psychiatric illness, or choose to take a therapeutic leave to spend time with family members. Further, the rationale used for these cuts are invalid as costs for direct care staffing are unaffected and would not be reduced due to one resident of a multi-person IRA being out of the house.
The State’s proposal to cut funding when residents visit family members will act as a disincentive for community integration goals fundamental to the HCBS waiver. This proposed policy would also undermine the Legislature’s intent to support the workforce of this critical sector in New York’s system of Medicaid supports and services. It will in fact, directly offset the rate enhancements previously provided by the NYS Legislature in 2019. These enhancements approved in the 2019 State budget for direct care staff in voluntary-run residential programs will be wiped out by these cuts.
It is deeply disturbing that in the recently adopted State budget for 2021-2022 FY, State-run residential programs received a 5.5% increase in spending while voluntary-run programs are now facing a reduction in financial support of almost the same percentage. It would appear the State is cutting funds for voluntary-run programs to finance increases in funding for State-run programs.
Prior to this pandemic, disability providers were already financially struggling and the impact of these proposed vacancy cuts would be approximately $238 million per year. Instead of making cuts New York State should be focused on working towards a slow and steady return to pre-COVID service delivery without jeopardy the precarious financial position of so many voluntary agencies.
This public health crisis is far from over as public health officials anticipate a resurgence this fall and winter. Cutting funding for OPWDD certified residential programs at this time would be devastating for all 35,000 people who resident in these residential programs across the State. I urge you to vote against these reckless cuts.
If you would like to write your own letter in opposition to the vacancy rate cuts, we have provided some context below for how the proposed cuts would affect service to people with I/DD.
Tips for writing your letter:
- Identify yourself
Say why you are writing and who you are. List your credentials, your relationship to the I/DD field, and state that you are a constituent. It also doesn’t hurt to mention if you voted for or donated to them.
Tell your elected official why this legislation matters to you and the people you know. If you have one, include a personal story that shows how this issue affects you and your family.
- Be emotional and factual
Provide detail without exaggeration about how the vacancy rate cuts would affect you and others.
- Close with a request
Close by requesting the action you want to be taken. Ask that the state do away with cuts to the vacancy rates and find savings elsewhere.
The proposed vacancy rate cuts in reimbursement for IRA and ICF residential programs would:
- Take about $200 million every year from our loved ones with I/DD.
- The proposed cuts will severely limit funding for individuals simply because they require hospitalization due to medical or psychiatric illness or choose to take a therapeutic leave to spend time with family members.
- Reduce reimbursement by as much as 7.5% for certain residential programs with significant vacancies, including vacancies due to deaths from COVID-19.
- Disproportionately harm individuals with serious medical or psychiatric conditions, as they spend more time away from a residence and therefore create more “empty beds.”
- Drastically cut funding to providers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, after providers were seemingly abandoned to the point of having to purchase their own personal protective equipment.
- Come at a time when voluntary providers are already owed funding from the state. The proposed cuts will directly offset rate enhancements previously provided by the NYS Legislature in 2019. The Legislature approved two 2% salary enhancements for direct care and clinical staff working in OPWDD residential programs – one increase to be implemented on January 1, 2020, and the second on April 1, 2020. Neither has been implemented as of this date but remain “under review” with the Division of the Budget.
Adapted from Cerebral Palsy Association of NYS and New York Disability Advocates (NYDA)
May 15, 2020
The House is expected to vote on the HEROES Act today, its latest COVID-19 legislative package which contains significant provisions to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and the providers who support them.
Today contact your member of Congress and tell them to vote YES on this legislation because it contains provisions essential to protecting people with I/DD during this pandemic. To find your member of Congress please visit: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
On Tuesday, House Democrats released the HEROES Act, their proposal for the long-anticipated fourth COVID-19 relief package. This is the opening round in negotiations with the Senate and White House for the fourth package and we anticipate the final package will look different from this proposal. However, the HEROES Act contains provisions that will be enormously helpful to people with I/DD and the Medicaid-funded I/DD services that support them, and will serve as Democrats’ framework for deciding what to support in the final legislation that is taken up by the House and the Senate.
Now is the time to show support for the HEROES Act provisions. The disability support-related provisions in the HEROES Act include:
- A 10 percent increase in the Medicaid match rate (FMAP) specifically for the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program.
- Explicitly defining Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) as essential workers.
- An additional $100 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, and a specific provision to list HCBS providers among the entities eligible for the funding.
- A “Heroes Fund,” which would fund hazard pay for DSPs up to $13 per hour in addition to current wages.
The House is expected to vote on this bill on Friday, so time is of the essence. Thank you.