OPRA Conference Spotlights System Change

The Ohio Provider Resource Association (OPRA) conference last week in Dublin offered an opportunity for the more than 450 service providers attending to learn about the many transformational changes underway in Ohio’s developmental disabilities service system, and across the nation. Keynote speaker for day one of the two-day conference was Barbara Merrill, CEO of the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), an advocate organization and key national resource for private community providers of services for people with disabilities. She wasted no time in naming Ohio a strong leader on the national scene, stating,

I want to acknowledge the incredible importance that Ohio has in the scheme of things with ANCOR. Ohio is up there! A long line of Buckeyes has supported and participated in ANCOR since its inception in 1970! You are deeply represented, and when we look at the national scene, we say, ‘Ohio gets it right.’ In fact, Ohio is Ground Zero when it comes to the big picture.”

Merrill highlighted several trends that currently are challenging the system, including the inherent workforce challenges of an aging population, Medicaid managed care, and resistance to changes in general. She noted, “Nothing produces more challenges than progress.”

DODD Director John Martin presented the keynote address on day two, offering an overview of the current status of the 2016-2017 proposed budget, and related initiatives. His comments underscored the importance of collaboration both within and outside of the developmental disabilities service system, noting the need for ‘give and take’ among agencies and across systems to “… get the job done for the people we are here to serve.”

Conference break-out sessions prompted conversations among providers regarding Home and Community-Based Services regulations, Medicaid expansion’s impact on Ohio healthcare programs, improving direct care workers’ wages, and other topics. OPRA President Mark Davis noted, “Now more than ever, providers have a voice in the system. We have $316 million in new money invested in our system. We have never seen this magnitude of change, or this kind of investment! It’s an exciting time, so don’t sit this one out.”

OPRA conf

Inside the Nursing Services for the IO Waiver session at the OPRA conference is DODD presenter Donna Patterson, RN. Adding Nursing services to the IO Waiver is one of the upgrades currently proposed for the 2016-2017 budget.