Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Florida First to Help Military Families with Waivers – State will Provide Services to those Transferred to Florida

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Florida is the first state in the country to offer Medicaid waiver services to active military families deployed from another state where they were already receiving services. The Florida Legislature passed and Governor Rick Scott signed the 2014-2015 It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget which created this program.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) provides Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver services to individuals with developmental disabilities so that they may participate in their local communities. The Medicaid waiver services are funded with state and federal tax dollars. All states provide Medicaid waiver services, however, because they are very popular programs there is a waiting list in most states including Florida.

Military families are frequently transferred and as a result their family member with a developmental disability loses Medicaid waiver services they were receiving at their previous post. This new program will prevent that from happening and will be a huge help to individuals with disabilities and their families transferring to Florida. It is receiving unanimous praise from disability stakeholders.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am very excited that Florida is the first state in the country to offer this benefit to military families.  Men and women in the military sacrifice many things to serve our country. Offering community services to their loved one with a developmental disability is the right thing for our state to do. This idea came from people who attended our APD Military Town Hall meeting cohosted by Governor Scott at Eglin Air Force Base earlier this year.  I am very happy Governor Scott and the Legislature took the nationwide lead to enact this measure to benefit military families.”

Eglin Air Force Base Airman & Family Readiness Center Director Mark Wilke said, “We appreciate Florida’s plan, which will reduce delays for military families with members who have disabilities so they may receive the APD Medicaid waiver when relocating to Florida. It will be a tremendous help.”

Family Care Council Florida Vice-Chairperson Pauline Lipps said, “I sincerely thank Governor Scott and the Florida legislators for being the first in the country to allow Military families, who are transferred to Florida, the ability to enroll in Florida’s Medicaid waiver program. The continuity of services for individuals with developmental disabilities in military families will help them realize a smooth transition to Florida while continuing to serve our country and preserve our freedom.”

“The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) says thank you to Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for passing legislation that will make Florida the first state in the country to allow military families who are already receiving waiver services in another state and are transferred to Florida to enroll in Florida’s Medicaid waiver. What a fitting way to serve those who give so much to serve our great country!  We hope to see similar legislation in all states within the near future,” said Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Executive Director Suzanne Sewell.

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida chairperson Janice Phillips said, “Our association fully supports Governor Scott and Legislature’s initiative to provide support to those military families who serve our country. Military families are stressed with frequent transfers. These families with members with developmental disabilities are particularly challenged. This groundbreaking legislation will help alleviate the hardship of added bureaucracy when these military families move to Florida, often leaving behind their sources of paid and natural support in other states. Florida’s willingness to facilitate assistance for service members’ loved ones with developmental disabilities is not only very commendable and deeply appreciated, but will help our economy by integrating them more rapidly into the community.”

Area 2 Family Care Council Chairperson Lou Ogburn said, “It is a good thing to allow Florida’s military families to continue on the Medicaid waiver program if they were on it in another state when transferred. The military personnel usually have no say in where they are stationed and families need the consistency that the waiver provides their loved one.”

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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Governor Scott Announces Elimination of Critical Needs Waitlist for Persons with Disabilities

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced all individuals with critical needs who have been on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiting list as of July 1 will be offered enrollment in the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver. Approximately 1,200 individuals will receive enrollment letters from APD in the next two weeks.

 

Governor Scott said, “We’re committed to providing every Florida family the opportunity to live the American Dream – and this year’s It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget invested another $20 million to move all remaining individuals with critical needs off of the waiting list, which is the first time this has happened in the history of the agency. This is the second year in a row we’ve been able to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.”

 

These individuals join about 1,600 people who were offered waiver services last fiscal year. Additionally, the agency will continue to enroll foster children with developmental disabilities into the waiver that are adopted or reunified with family members.

 

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am so happy the agency is able to keep moving people off the waiting list so they may receive waiver services in their communities. I thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for this important funding for the waiting list and their support of our agency. We are making a difference in people’s lives.”

 

After individuals accept the HCBS Medicaid waiver enrollment, they must select a waiver support coordinator who will work with them to develop a plan to address needed services. APD customers also select which waiver providers they want to deliver their services.


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Q & A from Military Town Hall Meeting

What is happening with the waiting list for APD services?
There are about 21,400 people on the APD waiting list.  APD was very fortunate this year to receive $36 million to enroll about 1,600 people with critical needs off the waiting list this year.  Governor Scott is recommending $20 million for the waiting list for next fiscal year.  That money would enroll about 1,400 people with critical needs from the waiting list.

Relocation- When Military Families relocate to a new location, they are required to start over and reestablish a “new home” for their family.  This can be difficult for the “typical” family finding new schools, a house, doctors, support networks etc. When a member has a dependent with significant Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities this becomes much more challenging.  Are there temporary services available that could assist military families with relocation? 
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities may be able to provide short term funding for families who have an emergency situation. These families are like all other Florida families, in that if they meet crisis criteria, they will be reviewed for enrollment into the Medicaid waiver program to receive community services.

APD has an online resource directory that may be able to provide community solutions.

Additionally, APD has begun exploring how other states address the needs of active military families with family members with developmental disabilities who are transferred, and are exploring the financial impact of enrolling individuals in Florida’s Medicaid waiver if the individual is already receiving waiver services in the state they are leaving.

Deployment/Single parent–In an effort to keep the military members mission-focused, are deployment cycles or single parents considered during the intake process for a military family with dependents diagnosed with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities?     
At the time of initial application for APD services, APD is reviewing documentation to support APD eligibility.  Upon determination of eligibility, APD also develops a support plan and looks at service needs of the person which would include researching community resources available to meet the person’s needs.

State Services Vary-Is it possible for APD to provide grant money to military families to attend the State Disability Conference for education and training on Florida services.
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities does provide funding to Family Café that helps provide scholarships to families. APD would not provide a grant directly to a family to attend Family Café. However, the family can either (1) apply to Family Café for a scholarship or (2) ask their local Family Care Council.  Both FCC’s in the NW Region specifically allocate funds to assist individuals/families to attend conferences. This would include Family Café.  We would certainly want to steer these families to the FCC as much as possible.

If unable to access a onetime purchase for medical or safety concerns through military emergency relief can APD provide this assistance? 
If a person is on the waiting list and they have a onetime need, the Agency may have IFS funds that could be used to fund this purchase if: the purchase is an allowable expense and if APD has available funds. Additionally, the person’s waiting list coordinator would assist the family in seeking this one time need through other available community resources.

How many people does the Agency for Persons with Disabilities serve?
There are currently about 30,000 being served through the Medicaid Waiver, about 700 people at APD centers, and about 21,000 on the waiting list who receive one-time services from APD throughout the year. All children who are Medicaid eligible on the waiting list receive Medicaid State Plan services and other services through their schools. Many people on the waiting list may not need services today, but get on the list in case one day they do need community services.

How do we help military families with developmental disabilities that reside away from major installations?  For instance, a spouse of a deployed service member moves back to her Florida hometown while her husband or wife is deployed—where does she/he go to get the assistance? 
APD has six regional office and several field offices with each region.  Families can go online to APDcares.org or call 1-866-APD-cares to find the nearest office to them and the way to apply for services.

How do we take care of our Guard member’s families, who typically don’t reside near our major installations?
All Florida families who have a member with a developmental disability may apply for APD services.  If the individual is not in a crisis situation, they will likely be added to the waiting list.  If the person or family is in a crisis situation, APD will offer services to alleviate the current crisis and work to have the individual added to the Medicaid waiver through the crisis process.


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GOV. SCOTT: MORE THAN HALF OF INDIVIDUALS WITH CRITICAL NEEDS MOVE OFF APD WAIVER WAITING LIST

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Governor Rick Scott today announced approximately 1,600 people, up from an estimated 750 people, will be moved off the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver waiting list. This is the first time that more than half of individuals with critical needs will be moved off of the APD waiver waiting list. Earlier this year, Governor Scott announced that $36 million in funding in his Florida Families First budget would help approximately 750 individuals to be moved off of the waiting list and be offered services through the waiver. That number is now expected to reach approximately 1,600, covering more than half of the individuals on the waiting list that have critical needs.

Governor Scott said, “In March, we were thrilled to commit $36 million to move 750 people with disabilities off of the APD waiver waiting list. Today’s announcement that our investment will help approximately 1,600 individuals –up from 750 individuals- receive the services they need is great news for Florida families. This will also be the first time that more than half of the individuals with critical needs will be moved off of the APD waiver waiting list. Our goal is to create an opportunity economy in Florida that supports jobs for generations to come. Our $36 million investment in APD will ensure our most vulnerable population will receive needed services and allow many to develop skills to help them find a job and live their American Dream.”

Governor Rick Scott recommended and the Florida Legislature supported including $36 million in the Florida Families First budget to serve people currently on the APD waiver waiting list. APD hosted two stakeholder meetings to develop the criteria to enroll those with the greatest needs with the new funding.

The Florida Families First budget also included 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.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am excited we have the ability to move additional people off the waiting list, and for these individuals to begin receiving waiver services in their communities. I appreciate Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for this needed funding for the waiting list and their support of our agency. We are truly changing lives for the better.”

Debra Dowds, Executive Director of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, said, “This is indeed a great year for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. So many more people who are in desperate need of services will be offered waiver enrollment than initially anticipated. This is a very positive step to help reduce and hopefully one day, eliminate the waiting list for people with disabilities who live and work in Florida. We are very appreciative to Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for their support to address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.”

Janice Phillips, Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida said, “A great tribute to Governor Scott and the Legislature that the funding they allocated to individuals with disabilities on the waiting list has been maximized to serve additional people. We are very excited to learn that additional people with developmental disabilities on the waiting list will be receiving services.” 

 

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Governor Scott Celebrates $36 Million in Funding for APD Waiting List

FORT MYERS, FL—Governor Rick Scott today visited LARC, Inc. in Fort Myers to announce an additional $36 million in funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Living in your own home and having a job are what all Floridians want, including those with disabilities. With our $36 million investment, we will be changing people’s lives for the better so they may live their version of the American Dream. For the first time in eight years, we will move more than 750 people off the APD waiting list so that they will receive the services they need to participate in their community and develop skills to find a job. ”

Governor Scott’s 2013-2014 Florida Families First budget includes $1.1 billion total for APD, including for the first time in eight years, $36 million that will allow individuals on the waiting list to enroll in the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver so they will receive services in their local communities. Those with the most urgent needs will benefit from this new funding.

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.

The budget 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 want to thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for their confidence and strong support of APD. We are ready to begin helping those with the most critical needs in the coming year.”

Roger Bradley, Executive Director for LARC, Inc. said, “With the $36.3 million for the waiting list, the wait is over for those with the most severe disabilities who have been waiting an inordinate amount of time for services. An undesirable trend is now being reversed by Governor Rick Scott and our legislators because they listened and acted on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens. Hope has returned for many of our families! This new funding for employment targets students with intellectual and developmental disabilities that are transitioning from high school to the adult world, and will enhance and hasten the opportunity for them to join the workforce without being first diverted to the couch. The direct route to employment is the most cost effective and efficient route for those who want to immediately go to work when they leave high school!”

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Board member Tricia Riccardi said, “We would like to thank the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott for approving the APD budget as this will help so many more people in Florida.”

Michele Poole, president of The Arc of Florida said, “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. We thank Governor Scott and the Legislature for taking this step in the right direction.”

Family Care Council Florida Past Chair Betty Kay Clements said, “I want to thank Governor Rick Scott and Florida Legislators for their attention to individuals with developmental disabilities that the Agency for Persons with Disabilities serves. The 2013-14 Florida Families First budget addresses for the first time in eight years, people on the waiting list for the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver.  There will be dramatic and positive changes in the lives of at least 750 people and their families. Individuals will receive critical services and supports that will enhance the quality of their lives and increase opportunities for them in their communities. This is wonderful news for them and their families. It is a step in the right direction and one that gives hope to those waiting for services.”

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. Facilities at the park were damaged many years ago by a hurricane and have been unusable.

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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Governor Scott: Florida Families First Budget Invests in Priorities for Disability Community and Vulnerable Populations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today highlighted investments in the Florida Families First budget to invest in programs for Florida’s disability community.

Governor Scott said, “For the first time in eight years, our budget will be used to remove persons with disabilities from the Medicaid waiver program waitlist and get them the help they desperately need. As we put Florida’s families first, we have a responsibility to invest in programs for the disabled and other vulnerable populations.”

The Florida Families First budget supports Governor Scott’s commitment to make investments for Florida’s disability community.

 

  • Agency for Persons with Disabilities Waitlist Funding:  For the first time in eight years, the Florida Families First budget provides additional funding for the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver program to go toward serving individuals on the waiting list. The Florida Families First budget provides $36.3 million to remove an estimated 750 individuals from the waitlist and onto the waiver program.

 

  • Nursing Home Diversion and Aged and Disabled Adult Waiver Waitlist Funding: The Florida Families First budget funds the waitlist by $25.2 million.  This funding will help keep the most frail of individuals at risk of home placement in their homes and community settings. The funding will serve approximately 2,000 individuals on the waitlist.

 

  • Fetal Alcohol Diagnosis and Intervention: The Florida Families First budget  more than doubles existing funds for early intervention and treatment to mitigate potential long term effects on children.

 

  • Quest Kids: The Florida Families First budget invests $650,000 toward early intervention services for at least 82 children, and skill validation and behavioral support services for at least 221 adults. Services will teach critical skills and reduce problem behavior, improve IQ and adaptive and social skills in children, and develop home-life and employment skills in adults. With this funding, individuals with disabilities will master new skills, transition into and maintain placement in mainstream school, improve literacy skills, achieve personal goals, and maintain current living arrangements.

 

  • Dan Marino Jobs Program for Children with Disabilities: The Florida Families First budget invests $1,000,000 toward on-the-job training, internships, and mentor apprenticeships for individuals with developmental disabilities between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. With this funding, more young adults with disabilities will have firsthand opportunities to prove their value in the workplace. Maximizing firsthand experiences in the workplace was one of three primary recommendations of the premier 2012 report by the Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities. 

 

  • Rate Increase for Adult Day Training Providers: The Florida Families First budget invests $1,895,756 in the form of a 3 percent across-the-board raise to all providers of adult day training services in the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waiver program. These services are among the most popular in the program. Providers offer individuals up to six hours per day of meaningful activities that support the individual in daily routines of the community, including training in the areas of self-help, adaptive, and social skills. These services are provided in congregate, facility-based settings, and may include off-site enclaves or mobile work crews.

 

  • William J. (Billy Joe) Rish Recreational Park: The Florida Families First budget provides $1,400,000 to provide maintenance and repairs at Billy Joe Rish Park, located on the St. Joseph Peninsula near Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas in Northwest Florida. Rish Park is open year round for people with disabilities and their family members, guardians, and caregivers. Special ramps provide access to the beautiful beach on the Gulf of Mexico.  Boardwalks connect all the cabins to the beach, event hall, and pool, and the Olympic-size swimming pool is wheelchair accessible. 

 

Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer said, “The agency is extremely grateful and humbled by the support we have received from both Governor Scott and the Legislature. The $36 million to help individuals with critical needs move from the waiting list to the Medicaid waiver will dramatically improve their lives and allow them to receive needed services in their communities. Also, the funding to provide job coaches and internships to additional people with disabilities will help them compete in the job market, and go to work like everyone else. We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for this strong support which will truly change lives.”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida Chairperson Janice Phillips said, “The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida “With the improvement in the economy and increase in state revenue, it is heartening to know that Governor Scott and the Legislature are making Florida’s citizens who are most in need a priority.  We are sincerely grateful to Gov. Scott and the Legislature for the funding to provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities who are on the waiting list.  We have many deserving people who need support and services to help them live in their community and to realize goals such as working and being productive citizens.”

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, “On behalf of its member agencies and the thousands of individuals they serve, the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities thanks Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for approving funding that will allow the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to begin addressing the DD Medicaid Waiver services wait list.  For the first time in eight years, hundreds of wait list individuals and their families can look forward to receiving much needed services to meet their health and safety needs.  As a result of the incremental funding and triage language that was passed to conform with the wait list funding, Floridians with developmental disabilities and their families can be assured that their needs were truly recognized by our Governor and lawmakers.”

Family Care Council Florida Past Chair Betty Kay Clements said, “Many thanks to Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislator for their attention to individuals with developmental disabilities.  There will be dramatic and positive changes in the lives of at least 750 people and their families.  This is wonderful news for them and for their families. It is a step in the right direction and one that gives hope to those waiting for services.   Addressing the needs and issues of individuals with developmental disabilities is a win- win situation.  It really does make a difference for them, their families and their communities.  Individuals, families and their Florida communities are the winners.”

Executive Director of Special Olympics Florida Sherry Wheelock said, “This new $36 million in funding for the APD waiting list is critical to expanding statewide access to support services for those who need them most.  It will help grow awareness of programs like Special Olympics Healthy Community that offers comprehensive health screenings, evaluations, and wellness opportunities to a population that is generally underserved.  We are grateful that Governor Scott, the Legislature, and APD recognize and are committed to better serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; a goal that Special Olympics has routinely sought to accomplish.”  


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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.