Agency for Health Care Administration Withdraws Proposed iBudget Handbook
June 4, 2014
Tallahassee, FL (June 4, 2014) – The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has withdrawn the version of the iBudget handbook that was proposed for adoption at a public hearing on May 14, 2014.
"We thank AHCA for withdrawing this version of the handbook and look forward to working with them to develop one that promotes community-based programs for the individuals we serve," said Deborah Linton, chief executive officer of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
The Arc of Florida objected to the latest version of the handbook after noticing it was not the same draft that stakeholders spent the last three years working on. The Arc had concerns about numerous changes that could have significantly limited many direct care services. The Arc's rule challenge to the proposed handbook will be withdrawn, with the hope of working cooperatively on a new draft.
Floridians with Developmental Disabilities Get Relief from Chronic Pain
Governor and Legislature Fund Critical Dental Program
June 2, 2014
Tallahassee, FL (June 2, 2014) – Governor Rick Scott signed Florida's budget into law today. It includes a $2 million special appropriation for The Arc of Florida dental program that will help hundreds of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
"We are grateful to Governor Scott and the Legislature for continuing this important program," said Pat Young, president of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with I/DD. "Many Floridians with developmental disabilities have suffered from dental pain for more than a decade. They will now be pain-free."
A number of individuals being served by the program have extensive disabilities and require extraordinary care. One 30-year-old man from Port St. Lucie who has cerebral palsy is blind, can't speak, has never walked and has such bad scoliosis, he hasn't been able to leave his home for three years. Steven Baker must be transported to the hospital for dental procedures by a specially trained team of professionals to prevent having seizures and passing out during the trip.
"It's a heart break every morning to see Steven," said Claudette Baker, his mother. "He hasn't been eating properly because he's in pain. I'm very thankful and grateful for this opportunity."
Since the dental program began in 2012, The Arc recruited 139 practices across the state and treated 650 Floridians with I/DD who could not afford dental care. Services include fillings, root canals, crowns, extractions and dentures. The special appropriation will ensure the program continues through the 2014 – 2015 fiscal year.
The Arc of Florida Files a Rule Challenge to Protect Floridians with Developmental Disabilities
May 28, 2014
Tallahassee, FL (May 28, 2014) The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), has filed a rule challenge involving the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) over the latest version of the iBudget Handbook that the agency is attempting to have approved. The Arc is asking an administrative law judge at the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings to determine the validity of portions of the proposed handbook that will have significant impacts on Floridians with I/DD and the providers who serve them.
"These types of policy issues have the potential to place individuals with I/DD at risk for institutional placement and could set our movement back 50 years or more," said Deborah Linton, chief executive officer of The Arc of Florida. "We have worked for decades with stakeholders in the I/DD community to bring about positive change for those we serve. But there are times when we must take a firm stand to protect individuals, families and the supports and services that enable their family members with I/DD to live at home and be included in their community."
On May 14, AHCA held a public hearing on an iBudget Handbook which has been proposed to regulate services that would impact individuals with I/DD. Upon careful review, The Arc of Florida discovered that the handbook proposed for adoption was not the version that stakeholders have spent the past three years developing in partnership with state agencies. Some of the provisions The Arc believes are harmful included in this version of the handbook are:
• Portions of the proposed handbook are vague or confusing, or conflict with other rules or statutes. Many of these issues were discussed and corrected after other workshops but have found their way back into this proposed handbook.
• The handbook proposes strict timelines for which individuals with I/DD are supposed to achieve various goals, particularly where behavioral services are involved. If they aren't able to achieve these goals, they could lose their services, be forced to use other providers or be moved to other residential settings.
• The I/DD community has some of the lowest rates paid for services when compared to all Medicaid services. Combined with new limitations on services, some rates paid do not even meet minimum wage. This is particularly true for individuals with more challenging needs. Increasing regulations and requirements for these employees and services will make services unavailable to the very individuals we are trying to serve.
While The Arc of Florida sought to work in partnership with the state agencies, it was placed in a position of having to take a stand for those it serves and represents. After trying to seek a resolution from the state that would not include litigation, The Arc found that the state's plan was to move forward despite having proposed the wrong handbook. This forced The Arc to file a proposed rule challenge or lose the opportunity to raise problematic issues later.
The Arc of Florida continues to believe that we can work together with our state partners to resolve concerns about the iBudget Handbook and build a better future for these individuals the Florida taxpayers have allowed them to serve.
Here is a copy of the filed petition: Petition 5-27-14
U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw Latest To Co-Sponsor Keeping All Students Safe Act
May 6, 2014
Washington, D.C. (May 6, 2014) – Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Jacksonville) has joined two other Florida lawmakers as co-sponsor of U.S. House Bill 1893, the Keeping All Students Safe Act. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Miami Gardens) became a co-sponsor in May 2013 and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Pensacola) joined last month.
The Arc of Florida traveled to Washington, D.C. in April to meet with Florida's elected leaders. Crenshaw made the decision to co-sponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act after meeting with Pat Young, president of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"As the grandmother of a child who has been injured from improper restraint in school, I understand how important this bill is," Young said. "We so appreciate Representatives Crenshaw, Miller and Wilson for their leadership in this area."
For more information on the Keeping All Students Safe Act, click here.
Photo: Rep. Ander Crenshaw with Pat Young, The Arc of Florida President, and Susan DeBeaugrine, Assistant Director of The Arc of Florida.