Waiting list funding to be allocated for the first time in 8 years
Governor Rick Scott today visited Bishop Grady Villas to celebrate $36 million in funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list. Hundreds of people with disabilities and their families cheered as Governor Scott shared the good news about APD’s budget for 2013-2014.
Governor Rick Scott said, “I want every Floridian, including those with disabilities, to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of finding a job and live their version of the American dream. With our $36 million investment, we will be making a big impact on many families throughout the state. For the first time in eight years, we are helping more than 750 people move off the APD waiting list where they will receive the services they need to participate in their community and develop skills to find employment.”
The Florida Families First budget includes $1.1 billion for APD. $36 million of that funding will allow individuals on the waiting list to enroll in the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver and start receiving services in their local communities. Those with the most critical needs will benefit from this new funding.
The Florida Families First budget also includes a one-time appropriation of $40 million ($17 million in state funding, $23 million federal match) to pay off the waiver deficit from prior fiscal years. With this funding, APD is projecting to be within its appropriation for the first time in many years. Leaders of organizations that serve people with disabilities unanimously praised the approved budget.
APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am so happy that the Florida Legislature supported Governor Scott’s recommendation to provide additional funding for the waiver waiting list for the first time since 2005. I want to thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for their confidence in APD. Families, waiver support coordinators, providers, and our employees have worked very hard to bring our waiver spending under control, and we are ready to begin helping those with the most critical needs in the coming year.”
Michele Poole, president of The Arc of Florida said, “We thank Governor Scott and the Legislature for taking this step in the right direction. The people who will come off of the Medicaid waiver waiting list have been eager to receive services for a very long time and are grateful for the assistance.”
The new budget also includes about $500,000 to assist people on the waiver waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work. The funding will pay for supported employment services to help 200 people with developmental disabilities obtain and maintain jobs and internships.
Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Jean Sherman said, “Families are greatly encouraged that the Legislature responded with funding to begin serving those individuals from the waiting list in the most urgent need. Likewise, designating new monies to help transitioning youth from the waiting list find employment is a positive step forward. Both of these actions signal that the voices of our families and loved ones are being heard in Tallahassee and for that we are most grateful.”
Family Care Council Florida Past Chair Betty Kay Clements said, “Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature have made a difference in the lives of many Floridians with developmental disabilities and their families. By supporting the governor’s budget for APD, legislators have opened the door for at least 750 individuals to receive needed supports and services through the Home and Community-Based waiver. Many more will be assisted with employment support and opportunities forthcoming from the agency. It is a step in the right direction and one that those of us who advocate for all individuals with developmental disabilities and their families can applaud. It also gives hope to those who are on the waiting list that they are not forgotten.”
Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Debra Dowds said, “This is a great year for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Instead of budget reductions, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities will receive a much needed increase in funds. In particular, many individuals with developmental disabilities with the most critical needs will begin to receive the services and support that they so desperately need. Funds specific for employment will also support many individuals with developmental disabilities to be more productive and independent Floridians. The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council would like to thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for their support and we hope this will be the beginning of a long term commitment to address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.”
$1.5 million for a new APD data system was funded in the budget that will provide service-specific information from providers regarding service delivery dates and progress, as well as better verification that services were delivered at the times and locations that were authorized by the agency. Additionally, this data system will include an electronic client central record that will provide the agency with information that can be used to more efficiently and effectively serve individuals with developmental disabilities by providing electronic information that will track provider services and progress for the client.
Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) President and Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Sewell said, “The membership of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities extends a sincere ‘Thank You’ to the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott for their demonstrated support of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities program during the 2013 Legislative Session. For the first time in eight years, the program has received enough funding to address the service needs of those who are on the APD waiting list. Also, the agency can now purchase a much needed electronic case management system which will enhance management and accountability of the iBudget system. The results of the 2013 Legislative Session were indeed positive for the individuals and families served by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities!”
Additionally, the Florida Families First budget contains $1.4 million for improvements to William J. Rish Park on Cape San Blas in Gulf County. Rish Park is a state park that was built and designed for people with disabilities. The facilities on the bay side of the park were damaged many years ago by a hurricane and have been unusable.