(Volume #20 – Issue #1)
HOLD THE DATE: CP OF NYS ALBANY LOBBY DAY IS MARCH 3, 2014
Monday, March 3, 2014 is the CP of NYS Albany Lobby Day. We have a block of rooms at the Albany Hampton Inn and we have Room 711A in the Legislative Office Building reserved for the day. Check your email for further details on Lobby Day, Advocacy and the Governor’s 2013-2014 state budget proposal!
GOVERNOR CUOMO DELIVERS HIS 4TH STATE OF THE STATE
Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his fourth State of the State message on January 8, 2014 (click here to read the full plan). This is also his first State of the State as he gears up for re-election in November. Governor Cuomo outlined his accomplishments and called for a series of tax cuts and credits that he said were designed to enhance the state’s attractiveness to businesses. He also vowed to drop regulations that inhibit business growth and to invest more money in infrastructure improvements, like the rehabilitation of LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports.
The Governor made it clear that cutting taxes would be his top priority this year but made no mention of supports and services for people with developmental disabilities.
Without any hint of what the Governor may be thinking for our supports and services, we will have to wait to see his 2014-2015 budget proposal, which will be presented to the Legislature on Tuesday, January 21. Once we have analyzed the details of his budget proposal, we will formulate our advocacy and legislative strategy.
SPEAKER SILVER’S OPENING SPEECH HIGHLIGHTS DD BUDGET FIGHT
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver opened the 2014 Assembly session on Monday, January 6, with remarks that highlighted the Assembly’s “restoration” of the $90 million cut to supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities. In his floor speech calling for bipartisan cooperation, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) emphasized that Republicans were critical in getting the funding for developmental disabilities days after the budget was approved.
The significance of this cannot be overstated and it highlights the attention that we have brought to supports and services for people with developmental disabilities and the impact of the Governor’s cuts. Clearly, our issue is in the forefront going in to a new session and budget and all sides want to take credit for the restoration of our cuts their number one priority.
ADVOCATES MEET WITH JUSTICE CENTER STAFF
On Monday, January 6, CP of NYS and representatives of the various fields under the jurisdiction of the Justice Center met with Jeff Wise and his staff to discuss problems and possible solutions to issues resulting from the implementation of the Justice Center.
The majority of the meeting consisted of a spirited discussion during which each of the service sectors explained that the Justice Center is perceived as intimidating. The Justice Center was described as adopting a prosecutorial stance where “suspects” were “interrogated,” not permitted to be accompanied to the “interrogation,” unless their union contract provided that they be accompanied, and denied a copy of the audiotape or transcript of the interrogation. Several association representatives described the Justice Center’s approach as “guilty until proven innocent.”
Mr. Wise responded that the Justice Center is a Law Enforcement Agency. He said that part of the problem was the difficulty inherent in a change in culture but that he understood that there was the perception that the Justice Center’s tone was negative. Mr. Wise stated that the initial rollout of the Justice Center needed to focus on getting the call center and the investigations department up and running and that they are now working on other components of the Justice Center such as best practice guidance and training.
Finally, Mr. Wise agreed that investigations are taking too long and that they are working to remedy this problem. He stated that addressing this problem is one of the highest priorities and that they have hired additional staff and are dealing with the backlog. Overall, this was a very frank and productive discussion.
SENATOR HANNON & ASSEMBLYMAN GOTTFRIED INTRODUCE EARLY INTERVENTION BILL
Senator Hannon (S.6002) and Assemblyman Gottfried (A.8613) introduced legislation that will place the billing of Medicaid and commercial insurers for Early Intervention under the New York State Fiscal Agent. This legislation ensures that Early Intervention providers are paid promptly and in a similar manner prior to the State Fiscal Agent. The bills (S.6002/A.8613) passed out of the respective Health Committees on Tuesday and were referred to the legislative fiscal committees. CP of NYS strongly supports this legislation and is working with the Senate and Assembly sponsors to ensure its passage.
GOVERNOR SIGNS ABA LICENSURE BILL
The Governor signed legislation (A. 6963 by Assemblyman Joseph Morelle), which provides for the regulation of Applied Behavioral Analysis. While CP of NYS had sought a total exemption from the legislation, the final three-way agreement with the Governor will provide a seven year exemption for not-for-profit providers in order to provide time to either come into compliance with the new legislative mandate or further extend the exemption.
NATIONAL COUNCIL ON DISABILITY SEES KANSAS AS MEDICAID MANAGED CARE BELLWETHER
The National Council on Disability sent a follow-up letter on 1-14-14 (click here to view) to top officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the lead Kansas Medicaid agencies urging them to hold off on including long-term supports for individuals with developmental disabilities in Kansas’ Medicaid managed care program which is known as KanCare.
The letter lists several steps the Council said Kansas should take before receiving federal approval. The letter calls for Kansas to develop a plan that includes more input from those affected by the proposed changes. The letter also recommends the state operate a regional pilot program over the next 12 months before being allowed to launch its plan statewide.
The National Council on Disability said the letter offered specific recommendations for Kansas but was intended to also communicate the Council’s thoughts on how Medicaid managed care might be implemented in other states. The Council’s position is that managed care can offer benefits to Medicaid enrollees, if implemented in the right way.
STATEWIDE ADVOCACY COALITION WORKING TO HEAD OFF MORE CUTS
A coalition group of seven regional and statewide associations of providers has been working together to enlist media outlets across the state to join with us in asking Governor Cuomo not to propose or support cuts to services for people with developmental disabilities.
The New York State budget has included cuts in funding for services provided through the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) each of the past four years. These cuts have amounted to about $380 million. Additionally, there has been no increase in funding for school age special education programs and preschool special education programs in five years.
EI has not received any increases in many years. It is important that Governor Cuomo hears from parents, self-advocates and others about the impact of the previous cuts as well as how any future cuts will negatively impact the lives of people with disabilities and their families. Please visit the following site and sign the petition – http://www.honoringthepromise.org/.
Below is an update on the progress in our statewide advocacy campaign.
Our coalition has had success in securing newspaper placements and some radio interviews regarding our request that Governor Cuomo not propose or support any additional cuts to funding for supports and services for people with developmental disabilities.
In December we saw an editorial published in the Buffalo News (see link here), and an Op-ed piece by parents Pat Muir and Cheryl Coppola (Happiness House) in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (see link here ).
We had a radio interview on Friday, January 3 on the widely heard political talk show Capitol Pressroom and on January 15 coalition members were at the Gannett Newspapers in White Plains for an Editorial Board meeting. We continue to get positive messages from several other media outlets, so are optimistic that there will be other articles, editorials, letters, etc. to come in the next few weeks. The hour-long Capitol Pressroom program can be heard here. Our interview starts about 23 minutes into the program.
We have had very good pieces in the Albany Times-Union (see link here), the Syracuse Post-Standard, the Rochester D & C (see link here ) and Metroland Magazine (Albany). There was also an interview on a news/public affairs program with members of the coalition on the new Long Island news radio station on December 28. We believe the interview will be posted on their website in the near future (http://linewsradio.com/).
There was an editorial in the January 16, 2014 Journal News and LoHud.com “Advocates: Don’t Cut Care for Disabled” and the editorial Board meeting with Michael Alvaro from CP of NYS, Jill Warner from Jawonio and Verlaine Brunot, whose brother attends a day program at the Anderson Center, was videotaped and can be seen here.
Our petition (http://www.honoringthepromise.org/) asking the Governor not to propose or support cuts in funding has nearly 8,000 signatures. We need many more signatures to gain the attention of the Governor and Legislature. Please remind your staff, program participants and family members to sign the petition. Put the link in e-mails and newsletters and share it with friends and neighbors.
CP OF NYS SUBMITS COMMENTS ON THE MRT WAIVER RESUBMISSION
CP of NYS submitted comments on the MRT Waiver Resubmission. CP of NYS agrees that the waiver has the potential to provide needed services to patients and to move New York’s Medicaid program on a path to achieve the Triple Aim (better care, better health and lower costs). But, it is important to ensure that the full spectrum of providers, not just hospitals, will be able to participate in this historic change. Community providers, such as the CP of NYS clinics, must be at the forefront of this endeavor in order to ensure that all Medicaid patients receive the services they need in the most appropriate and beneficial setting.
CP of NYS made specific suggestions on the following:
- Definition of Safety Net Providers;
- Composition of Panel to Review Projects;
- Funding and Smaller Providers;
- Requirements to Include Smaller Providers; and
- Downstream Impact on Community-Based Providers.
For more information or a copy of the comments, contact Deb Williams or Barbara Crosier of the Affiliate Services Office.
JIMMO V. SEBELIUS: CMS REVISES MEDICARE POLICY TO ENSURE COVERAGE FOR SKILLED MAINTENANCE CARE
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that pursuant to the Jimmo vs. Sebelius settlement, the Medicare Policy Manuals have been revised. The Jimmo case ended a longstanding practice denying Medicare coverage to people who had “plateaued” or were “chronic,” or “stable,” or “not likely to improve.” The Manual revisions, which clarify that improvement is not required to obtain Medicare coverage, were published by the CMS on Friday, Dec. 6. They pertain to care in inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, home health care and outpatient therapies.
Per the Jimmo Settlement, CMS will now implement an education campaign to ensure that Medicare determinations for SNF, home health, and outpatient therapy turn on the need for skilled care – not on the ability of an individual to improve.
OPWDD TASKFORCE ON SPECIAL DENTISTRY MEETS
CP of NYS participated in the most recent meeting of the OPWDD-NYS Taskforce on Special Dentistry. The Taskforce was formed in 2002 and is “dedicated to improving the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of dental services for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.” Staff from several CP of NYS Affiliates also attended the meeting that was held via videoconference throughout the state.
The focus of the meeting was to review/discuss the DISCO process and its impact on the provision of dental services for people with developmental disabilities. In addition, the group reviewed demonstration projects that they hope will be funded by DOH to improve oral health for people with developmental disabilities.
CP of NYS will be taking a more active role in the Taskforce as we move closer to DISCO/managed care development. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Deb Williams at the Affiliate Services Office.
THE ACCOUNTABLE CARE COALITION OF GREATER NEW YORK JOINS MEDICARE SHARED SAVINGS
The Accountable Care Coalition of Greater New York (ACCGNY) is one of 15 new accountable care organizations across New York and New Jersey that joined the Medicare Shared Savings program on January 1.
A Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organization (MSSP ACO) will serve over 5,000 eligible Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries across various regions of NYS and NJ. A significant portion of the beneficiaries are people with disabilities, making it the only organization of its kind. The ACCGNY is comprised of Disability Service Agencies that operate Article 28 Diagnostic and Treatment Centers including Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP of NYS) and Affiliates Aspire of WNY, Hudson Valley Cerebral Palsy Association, Jawonio, United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County, Inc. and Upstate Cerebral Palsy.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) to increase the affordability and rate of health insurance coverage while reducing the cost of health care in America. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created pilot projects such as the MSSP ACO to explore ways to improve health care outcomes while reducing costs. ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high-quality care to their Medicare patients. The goal of coordinated care is to ensure that patients, especially those with chronic conditions get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services.
GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND
Staten Island Elks Lodge member Donna Tillman made the holiday just a bit more special for a group of residents living in a home on Staten Island’s Watchogue Road and operated by CP of NYS. Ms. Tillman has been a good neighbor to the gentlemen who reside there and they are reportedly very fond of her as well. Last month she showed just how good neighbors respond.
During the recent holiday season, the residence’s management team was searching for a venue to hold a holiday party for the men who live there. Ms. Tillman owns a small catering company in the community and she offered use of the Elks Lodge free of charge for the annual Christmas party. She also catered the event for a fraction of what other caterers were asking. Ms. Tillman’s sister passed away only days before the party, yet she cooked the food, set-up and served all the guests with a smile. She even arranged for a special visitor from the North Pole.
Elks across the state are known for going out of their way to lend a hand and this is just one example. Many thanks to a truly good GREAT neighbor.