Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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“KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” Budget Eliminates Critical Needs Waiting List for Second Year in a Row

Third Year to Fund Waiting List Enrollment

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Florida Governor Rick Scott is again recommending funding to serve individuals with critical needs on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list. Governor Scott’s proposed 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget includes $1.16 billion for APD with $8 million to serve the waiting list. The money will be used to enroll about 400 individuals into the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver so they can use this funding for community services. This is the third year the Governor has recommended money to serve the waiting list and the second year in a row that the Governor has taken the action to eliminate the waiting list.

Governor Scott said, “We are excited that we are recommending the funding to again eliminate the critical needs waiting list this year. These life changing investments will create more opportunities for all Floridians to get the care and treatment they deserve.”

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I cannot thank Governor Scott enough for his continued support of individuals with disabilities. For the third year, Governor Scott is recommending funding to serve people on the waiting list with critical needs. This money will allow everyone with critical needs to enroll into the Medicaid waiver in the coming year. For the past two years, APD has carefully managed its budget while also enrolling new individuals into the Medicaid waiver, which many people thought would be impossible. I appreciate Governor Scott’s ongoing confidence in APD and the people we serve.”

Also for the third year, Governor Scott’s budget proposal includes $2 million to assist people on the waiver and the waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work. This funding will pay for Supported Employment and supported internship services for people with developmental disabilities.

Additionally, Governor Scott is recommending $2.9 million for a new APD data system 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 effectively serve individuals with developmental disabilities by providing electronic information that will track provider services and the progress of the client.

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Pauline Lipps said, “We applaud Governor Scott for his continued efforts to reduce the waiting list of individuals with developmental disabilities across the state of Florida. Through these efforts and the Employment First Initiative, individuals will be afforded the opportunity to pursue employment services in the community that could reduce the barriers of finding competitive employment for individuals with disabilities.”

Betty Kay Clements, parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida, said, “I am so pleased that Governor Scott’s 2015 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget includes $2 million for APD to continue to support the employment contribution that individuals with developmental disabilities can make as they highlight their many abilities.  Given the opportunity, their contribution is not just that of personal growth, self-esteem, and a paycheck, but a job well done that also benefits their communities and Florida’s employers. Everyone benefits!”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida chairperson Janice Phillips said, “We appreciate Governor Scott who continues to embrace the issues facing individuals with developmental disabilities. Providing money to move people with critical needs off the waiting list is an important priority, and I am so happy it is a priority of the governor too. Helping individuals move forward toward their goals is what we all want.  I am pleased that funding has been earmarked to assist people with disabilities with their employment goals.  Having a job is extremely important to everyone, including those with disabilities who are trying to enter the workforce and become productive citizens of our state.”

Area 2 Family Care Council Chairperson Lou Ogburn said, “We applaud the Governor for his efforts to reduce the size of the waiting list.  We are also pleased he is providing help to the developmental disabilities community in employment.  It is critical for those who are able and want to work to be able to earn a paycheck.  His understanding and push to help overcome some of the hurdles with finding willing employers is so important.  We are also pleased with the money for a new Client Data Management System in order to more closely track the services to individuals with developmental disabilities so can be offered more timely when possible.”

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, “We are thrilled to see that waiver enrollment will continue in the coming year and that the Governor is investing in a strong provider network to meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. Providing community services to people with developmental disabilities is essential. We are pleased to see that Governor Scott is recommending about $8 million to continue to move new individuals into the Medicaid waiver and to ensure that a strong viable network is available to provide the services they need.”

“Special Olympics Florida applauds Governor Scott and the Legislature for dedicating critical funds that will help to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Florida. With this funding we are proud to work with APD to create communities statewide that value the contributions of all citizens,” President and CEO of Special Olympics Florida Sherry Wheelock.

To view the complete list of Governor Scott’s budget recommendations, visit www.KeepFloridaWorking.com.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities.  The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1‑866‑APD‑CARES (1‑866‑273‑2273).

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iBudget Now Statewide

TALLAHASSEE — Beginning today, all individuals served by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) throughout Florida have an improved way to manage their services and the dollars used to pay for those services. It is called iBudget Florida. iBudget provides greater ability to choose services that matter most to customers given their unique situations. It also gives more flexibility for customers to respond to their changing needs.

The final phase of the iBudget implementation began in Dade and Monroe counties today.  All Consumer-Directed Care Plus (CDC+) participants across the state also started using iBudget Florida today. This final group is joining 23,257 others already using the system in the rest of the state.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “Providing the best possible services to our customers is what this agency wants to deliver. With iBudget Florida, we are providing a fair system that protects the health and safety of our customers while at the same time giving customers the ability to make choices to meet their current needs. Once people understand the flexibility of iBudget, they absolutely love it.  The agency is very happy to offer this improved service to our customers.”

The iBudget Florida Medicaid waiver is used to direct and receive Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) through APD. The HCBS waiver is funded by state and federal tax dollars to help people with developmental disabilities remain and participate in their local communities.

Many families in North Florida have been using iBudget for more than a year and are pleased with the increased flexibility and improved self-direction.  APD has posted interviews with families on iBudgetFlorida.org.  Visit http://apdcares.org/ibudget/videos.htm to view the testimonials.

iBudget Florida is designed to make the funding process fair and equitable for all Medicaid waiver customers. This enhanced system also provides for financial predictability for the Medicaid waiver to help prevent the agency from overspending.

APD annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with the developmental disabilities of autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information on iBudget Florida, visit iBudgetFlorida.org. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273) or visit APDcares.org.


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Freyvogel’s April 23 Tampa Bay Online Letter Twists the Facts

Claim: “New budget format hurts the disabled and organizations.”

Fact: The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) formed a stakeholder workgroup to design and plan the implementation of the iBudget Florida waiver. Jim Freyvogel, president and CEO of the MacDonald Training Center, Inc., was a member of this workgroup. There was significant discussion at these meetings about how to design iBudget to benefit customers and providers. A major premise of iBudget is to fairly distribute funding based on the characteristics and circumstances of the each individual. The agency also conducts individual reviews for any person who received a reduction in funding to ensure health and safety needs are met. These reviews are critical part of the final determination of the funding for the individual.

Claim: “She received a drastic cut of $6,346 in service funding.”

Fact: Individuals moving into iBudget have several months to adjust their services prior to actual implementation. Additionally, anyone who has filed an appeal does not have their services reduced while the fair hearing is pending. More than 2,000 people have not taken any reduction while their appeal is waiting to be heard.  With iBudget, funding can be moved and reallocated to other services to meet the person’s changing needs within specific guidelines.

Claim: “Multiply it by 12,000 other individuals whose services are also being profoundly affected by iBudget cuts.”

Fact: Statewide approximately 60 percent of people did not receive any reduction in funding.  For those that did receive a funding reduction, there was an individual review conducted to ensure their health and safety needs were met with the new funding level.

Claim: “iBudget is endangering the cost savings that organizations such as MTC are able to pass on to taxpayers by supplementing the actual cost of services.”

Fact: MTC received $2.7 million in tax dollars last year serving APD customers. The Florida Legislature has directed APD to meet the health and safety needs of individual’s on the Medicaid waiver.

Claim: “The state must move to a more viable alternative.”

Fact: iBudget has been recently implemented as a viable alternative to the four-tier waiver system. iBudget was specifically designed to address a sustainable long-term alternative to serving individuals in their communities.  The iBudget waiver gives individuals choices on how to spend their taxpayer funding for community services and also provides immediate access to change services as needs change. This is the essence of the iBudget Florida waiver and why a majority of APD customers support it.

APD annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with the developmental disabilities of autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273) or visit APDcares.org.


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SaintPetersBlog by Peter Schorsch Ignores the Facts

Claim: “Florida’s Medicaid waiver program for persons with disabilities, iBudget Florida, has hit multiple snags and as many lawsuits in its slow implementation since being created by the Legislature in 2010.”

Fact: The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) formed a stakeholder workgroup to design and plan the implementation of the iBudget Florida waiver and these meetings occurred over a two year period. Jim Freyvogel, president and CEO of the MacDonald Training Center, Inc., was a member of the stakeholder workgroup. The iBudget waiver began in April 2012 and will be completed on July 1, 2013.  The agency implementation requires significant training for agency employees, families, waiver support coordinators, and service providers. Therefore, the implementation was not intended to be completed statewide in one quick process.  The agency also conducted reviews for any individual who may have received a reduction in funding. These reviews take time and are critical to ensure the health and safety needs of the person are met.

 

Claim: “For some, these cuts mean losing adult day training, in which skills are learned a social setting, or lose essential transportation to these venues.  Although according to APD, only about 10 percent of people who have transitioned to the iBudget have appealed — a rate they consider to be ‘very successful’.”

Fact: Adult day training was specifically included in the extraordinary need calculation for all APD customers during the iBudget transition, as were many other services that are needed to provide for the health and safety of the APD customer in the community. The right to an appeal is always honored by APD.  The 10 percent rate of appeals is below the rate of appeals the agency experienced when implementing the tiers.

 

Claim: Craig Byrd, president and CEO of UCP/WORC in Flagler and Volusia Counties, said, “I believe the reasons for the small percentage of appeals are that individuals with disabilities and their families fear an appeal will cause a further reduction of their funding or they have been told by APD representatives to not waste their time.”

Fact: The agency honors all appeals for due process. No one from APD has indicated otherwise. The iBudget process includes an individual review with each person to discuss the potential reduction and to determine how to best meet the person’s needs using all available resources.

 

Claim: The economic impacts of these changes may be felt beyond the families directly affected. Take for example, the mother of Chad Russell — who at 25 needs help with bathing, dressing and medical treatments and communicates with his team at UCP/WORC using sign language they have learned alongside him — may lose her job working on condo sales if Chad loses his access to adult day training.  While she already pays for the majority of his services as well as medical supplies and diapers, he no longer receives speech, physical or occupational therapy due to cuts.

 Fact: The individual review process takes into account the need for adult day training and therapy services.  All services are available under the iBudget waiver and the individual has complete flexibility to use their funding from iBudget to meet their needs.

 

Claim: “Adult day training is the most effective cost-saving method there is,” said Jim Freyvogel, president and CEO of the MacDonald Training Center, Inc. “These services enable family members to keep their own jobs rather than being home as unpaid caregivers, and prevent people with disabilities from being forced to live outside their own homes. This is a huge cost saver. If Chad is forced to move into a group home it will cost the taxpayers of Florida an additional $45,000 to $50,000 for his care.”

Fact: The agency fully supports the need for adult day training and has recognized its importance in the iBudget funding process.

 

Claim: Florida has worked hard to promote and maintain home and community based care; but many fear that changes under iBudget could erode this progress.

 Fact: Home and community-based care remains the highest priority for APD.

 

Claim: “The method in which APD is implementing iBudgets is undermining the system of natural supports which is the cornerstone of the service delivery system in Florida,” said Freyvogel, whose MacDonald Training Center supplements about 22 percent of the actual cost of care, saving taxpayers what he estimates to be about $1.3 million each year.

 Fact: The iBudget recognizes the critical services and supports families and natural or community supports provide. The iBudget provides funding that is to be used as a last resort to pay for services.  iBudget provides all individuals services that they may have not been able to access under the tier system, such as dental services and therapy services. 

 

Claim: Byrd’s concerns with iBudget also hit upon various administrative issues. Prior to iBudget, clients and service providers would receive an authorization for services for one year, providing the ability to plan and budget accordingly. Yet under iBudget, authorizations are required quarterly. 

Fact: iBudget allows full flexibility for individuals to use the iBudget funding to meet their needs. The iBudget system helps the family in tracking the funding by issuing quarterly service authorizations based on the services that the individual has requested. Quarterly service authorizations allow families to move unspent monies from quarter to quarter allowing individuals to meet their changing needs.

 

Claim: “This means perpetual uncertainty for clients and their families, and from a provider standpoint it is an administrative nightmare,” said Byrd. “iBudget is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Consumer choice is only the PR piece to make the reductions more palatable. It is nothing more than a cost containment system for the state without regard to the needs of Floridian’s with disabilities.”

Fact: The iBudget waiver gives individuals choices on how to spend their taxpayer funding for community services and also provides immediate access to change services as needs change.  This is the essence of the iBudget Florida waiver.

 APD annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with the developmental disabilities of autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273) or visit APDcares.org.


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iBudget Videos

We posted a series of videos concerning iBudget.  Please take the survey (it’s only 1 question!) and let us know what you thought.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YNS9PVH

If you haven’t watched the videos yet you can view them here:

http://apd.myflorida.com/ibudget/videos.htm


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iBudget Ringing in the New Year

TALLAHASSEE — Agency for Persons with Disabilities customers in the Tampa Bay and Fort Myers areas are beginning the New Year with a new way to manage their services that are funded by the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver. Beginning this month, these customers will use the iBudget Florida waiver to direct their services and the money used to pay for them. The HCBS waiver is funded by state and federal tax dollars to help people with developmental disabilities remain and participate in their local communities.

These 6,138 customers join 13,319 other customers who are already enjoying the benefits of iBudget Florida in managing their waiver dollars. The new customers live in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, De Soto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. More than six months of preparation and training has occurred with customers, their families, their waiver support coordinators, and providers prior to the January 1 implementation.

iBudget Florida is a different way to deliver Medicaid waiver services. It has been approved by both the Florida Legislature and the federal government. iBudget provides greater ability to choose services that matter most to customers given their unique situations. It gives greater flexibility for customers to respond to their changing needs.

Many families in North Florida have been using iBudget for more than a year and are very pleased with how iBudget Florida has improved their self-direction and provided increased choice. APD has posted several interviews with families on iBudgetFlorida.org. Visit

http://apdcares.org/ibudget/videos.htmto view the testimonials.

The next group of customers, who live in Palm Beach and Broward counties, will begin using the iBudget Florida system on April 1, 2013.

The final group of customers, in Dade and Monroe counties, will begin using iBudget on July 1, 2013. In addition, Consumer-Directed Care Plus (CDC+) participants will start using iBudget Florida on July 1, 2013.

iBudget Florida is designed to make the funding process fair and equitable for all Medicaid waiver customers. It has increased opportunities for customers to direct their own care. This system also provides for financial predictability within the waiver.

Some other customer benefits of iBudget Florida are:

·Ability to reallocate funds not spent on services in one month for future service needs within a fiscal year

·Access to dental services that were not available in the tier four waiver

·Greater control to change services or providers to fit the person’s needs

·Support coordinators able to use iBudget technology to reduce paperwork requirements and communicate efficiently with providers and APD, and

·Greater opportunity for APD to use new funds to serve people on the Medicaid waiver waiting list.

APD annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with the developmental disabilities of autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information on iBudget Florida, visit iBudgetFlorida.org. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273) or visit APDcares.org.