Administration Update: Budget Hearings, Other Forums

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Based on the stakeholder feedback regarding changes affecting independent providers, the state is strongly considering extending the implementation of changes by as long as two years. This would allow additional time for individuals and providers to transition to self-directed care, where individuals can continue working with their current providers using Employer Authority. More information about why the state is proposing these changes was released yesterday by the Office of Health Transformation (OHT). OHT also clarified that the budget bill (HB64):

“…does not eliminate independent providers, but does clarify that the employer for a direct support worker must be either the individual receiving services, or an agency – not the State of Ohio.”

DODD Director John Martin noted that the longer timeline will ensure that we’re making these changes in a very planful way that continues to respect the individual’s right to select and hire the people providing services to them. He explained, “We want to make sure that folks are comfortable with what we are proposing.” He added that individuals and families should not see a disruption of services if they choose the self-directed option, and could continue to recruit, hire, train, schedule, supervise, and fire (as needed) their service providers. Under the current proposed budget the changes would not apply to those currently receiving adult foster care services (Ohio Shared Living).

Many people have had questions about the self-directed option, and Employer Authority. Lori Horvath, DODD Deputy Director of Medicaid Development and Administration, shared more information about Understanding Employer Authority at The Arc of Ohio’s winter training last week. (DODD will host a webinar in the coming weeks to share more information about Employer Authority; the webinar will be recorded and an online replay will be available. Watch Pipeline and the DODD website for details.) At The Arc event, more than 500 individuals, family members, and professionals heard up-to-date information about the state’s proposed biennial budget, including a discussion regarding the future for independent providers. At the event, Gary Tonks, executive director of The Arc of Ohio, introduced DODD Director John Martin, stating,

“Your issues are his issues — because he is a Dad first. He gets it. Together is the only way we can move forward, and we will be at the table for these discussions.”

During his presentation, Director Martin thanked family members throughout Ohio’s developmental disabilities community for participating so actively in the budget development process, speaking their minds, and sharing their insights with legislators and with the Department. He noted, “We are listening, and I believe we can make some adjustments to the proposed budget language — and possibly, to some of the timeframes for proposed changes.”

The revised budget is expected to move through the Ohio House of Representatives during the week of April 20, and then will be reviewed by the Senate. An agreed-upon budget must be in place by June 30.

New Study Released

An in-depth study of Ohio’s developmental disabilities service system, Ohio at a Crossroads, has been released by the Center for Community Solutions. The study notes that the system is facing transformational change, and provides a great deal of current information.

See more information online at: Center for Community Solutions; See a related article from The Columbus Dispatch: State officials tell people with disabilities that they can still choose …

Also, check these links online: Our Future; Policy Detail; Fact SheetGovernor’s website. We also invite you to share your feedback.