Tuesday, members of the Senate Finance Committee released a substitute version of the FY2016-2017 biennial budget bill, HB 64. The Sub Bill makes several changes to the As Introduced and As Passed by House versions of HB 64.
The text of the Senate version of HB 64, as well as the Budget in Detail and Comparison Document created by the Legislative Services Commission, offer full details of the Sub Bill. Updates on some key provisions include:
Direct Care Staff Rate Increase
The 6 percent rate increase for Homemaker Personal Care was amended to implement the increase over two years – 3 percent beginning on January 1, 2016, and an additional 3 percent beginning on January 1, 2017.
What this means: Direct Care Staff would get the full increase, but wouldn’t see the full increase until January 1, 2017.
Developmental Center Closure Commission
The As Passed by House version of HB 64 established a new process to close any Developmental Center (DC). The process includes a new 13-member commission that would review specific criteria and submit a recommendation to the Governor within 30 days of the notice of the intent to close a DC. The Senate amended the language to extend the time the Commission has to provide its report to 90 days (from 30 days), and to require that one member of the Commission be a family member of a person who is living in the Developmental Center.
What this means: If enacted, the new closure process, including the DC Closure Commission, will be implemented in 90 days.
Intermediate Care Facilities Program Changes
The As Introduced version of HB 64 included provisions designed to modernize the Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF) Program, including a flat rate for those with the least significant disabilities, moving all ICFs to two per bedroom, and redesigning the reimbursement model. Families said they felt some of these changes would limit access to the ICF program, and reduce the level of service their family member receives.
In response to that feedback, the Department and Providers amended many of the provisions; these changes were included in the As Passed by House version of HB 64. The Senate retained the amended language, with the exception of the provision that exempted children from the two-per-bedroom clause – the Senate increased the age to which the exemption applies from 18 years old to 21.
What this means: The changes that will take place have been agreed to by stakeholders and the Administration, and will balance modernizing the program with the desire of families to maintain the type of service they currently receive.
Bill of Rights
The As Passed by House version of the budget made changes to the Bill of Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities. However, advocates said that the changes could limit their rights. They also said that the Bill of Rights has served people for more than 20 years, and that they should be a part of the process to make any changes. The Senate removed the changes to the Bill of Rights.
What this means: The changes to the Bill of Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities currently are not part of HB 64.
Independent Provider Changes
The As Introduced version of the budget laid out a process to transition independent providers to a new model where the individual receiving services is the employer of record. This move would expand self-direction, and ensure the State is in compliance with federal labor laws. After hearing feedback from individuals, families, and providers, the House removed this provision from the budget. The Senate did not add the provision back into the budget.
What this means: The Senate version of the budget does not contain a provision to transition independent providers to a new model. Because self-direction helps individuals have more control over who provides their care and how their care is provided, the State will continue efforts to add a self-directed option to all waivers.
In the next few weeks, the Sub Bill will work its way through the Senate, then through Conference Committee. The deadline for the Governor to sign the budget is June 30. As the process continues, the Department will continue to share updates.
If you have questions, please call the DODD Budget and Developmental Center Closure Hotline toll-free at 855-611-6446 (OHIO).