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House Hearing on ODP Funding Issues
December 14, 2011

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Human Services Committee conducted a hearing addressing Payment Procedures for Intellectual Disability Services on December 13. Testimony was provided by state provider associations, supports coordination, families, direct service providers, MH/MR program administrators, advocates, and the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP). Copies of the hearing agenda and testimony of all presenters is available.

Testimony coordinated by PCPA included:

  • Supports Coordination Organization (SCO) representation by Michelle Sipple, service coordination unit director, Familylinks, Allegheny County;
  • Familylinks parents, Tom and Linda Michael with daughter Sarah; and
  • Intellectual Disabilities and Autism (IDA) Coalition and provider panel including George Kimes, executive director, and Jim Bobeck, CEO, Step by Step.

The hearing also included the executive directors of PAR and PARF; provider Access Services; a family and advocate panel of The Arc Pennsylvania, the Pensylvania Waiting List Campaign, and the Disability Rights Network, the MH/MR Program Administrators Association; and the ODP deputy secretary and financial director.

Sipple provided an overview of the role of the supports coordinator, how individuals are enrolled in the system, individual service plan development, needs assessment, and monitoring of providers for service implementation. Concerns were presented regarding moving SCOs to the state-set fee schedule and the impact of rate cuts of up to 28 percent. ODP has been asked to provide clarification regarding the critical factors used to develop these rates.

Tom and Linda Michael discussed the impact on them when Sarah graduated from high school in June and moved to a system with no funding to provide supports. They met with their state senator to seek resolution and were eventually provided with base funding for community supports needed. They are concerned that when they will no longer be able to care for their daughter that funding for community supports will not be available and the only option would be institutionalization at a price currently eight times the cost of Sarah’s community supports.

Kimes addressed financial cuts to ODP waiver-funded community supports. Not only were provider rates cut by a negative six percent Rate Adjustment Factor for 2011/12, in actuality, over the past 15 years funding has been cut by 40 percent in comparison  to the Home Health Market Basket Index. The negative impact of these rate cuts will reduce management oversight and supervision of direct care services, reduce the wages and benefits of already underpaid direct care workers, and cause the potential termination of services.

Step by Step provides services in 15 counties to approximately 2,000 individuals, 800 of whom have an intellectual disability. Bobeck stressed the impact of ODP rate cuts on individuals served with other disabilities and behavioral health issues. Financial cuts will impact staffing needs of the agency and increase turnover, lead to reduction in staff training hours, and potentially impact the health and safety of individuals served.

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