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Stateside Report - 04.04.22

Stateside Report: April 4, 2022

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Rights & Access

Kentucky – (WKU- NPR, 03/29/22) Kentucky republicans have passed out of committee House Bill 7 which seeks to implement changes to the Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the revisions to the bill were not made available to the public until after it was passed out of committee. The changes include: charging the Cabinet for Health and Family Services with responsibility to investigate cases in which benefits from SNAP aren’t used “for the welfare of the family”; a requirement that “able-bodied adults” participate in a community engagement program; punishment of those who sell EBT cards used for the benefits with up to a five-year ban from all public assistance programs; and a requirement that SNAP recipients (excluding the elderly and disabled) to report changes in income and assets, changes in address and more, or be at risk of losing benefits; and allows the attorney general the ability to sue the Cabinet if the rules are not implemented. It is unclear how much this bill will cost the state if passed and the Cabinet Secretary, Eric Friedlander testified that “the extra paperwork created from regulations in the bill could ‘overwhelm’ cabinet employees.

 

State Budget

Arkansas – (Article curtesy of ANCOR’s subscription to Open Minds, 03/31/22) The Department of Human Services has expended $112 million from APRA funding to their Medicaid HCBS provider organizations in support of workforce retention and recruitment efforts. Providers may use these funds for hiring & retention bonuses, and for workers supporting people with complex medical conditions. This funding will reach providers who collectively serve approximately 78,000 HCBS beneficiaries. The bonuses range from $1,000 for new hires after thirty days of employment, longevity bonuses of up to $15,000 for continuous employment of a minimum of three months and cannot be paid in a lump sum, and a complex care bonus of up to $3,500 for DSPs supporting at least one person with complex needs. A total of 355 providers applied for the funds which will be available through March 31, 2024.

California – (CA Legislative Analyst’s Office, 03/29/22) The Legislative Analyst’s Office posted an overview of the proposed 2022-23 Dept. of Developmental Services (DDS) budget with three main proposals.  Of the three proposals, two are particularly germane to I/DD services. They include 1.) Proposal for Early Childhood and Transition to Schools with funding for case load intended to reduce the service coordinator-to-consumer ratio; funding for Regional Centers (RCs) and DDS Specialists to include one IDEA specialists per RC and six childhood specialists at DDS; $10 million to facilitate the inclusion of children with developmental disabilities in preschool programs. 2.) Proposal to Develop Alternative to Subminimum Wage Employment. This proposal includes $8.3 million in funds over three years and one DDS position to pilot an alternative service model.  This pilot would not include individuals making subminimum wage who are served in other programs, such as day programs or group supported employment programs, meaning that alternatives to those programs also will need to be developed. 

New Mexico – (NM Human Services Department) The Department of Human Services announced that HCBS providers will receive a 15% temporary reimbursement increase from ARPA funds to help support services.  Medicaid Director Nicole Comeaux said in a statement, “The New Mexico Medical Assistance Division values the important work of home and community-based services providers and understands how challenging it has been to continue to deliver care over the past two years. Our proposed spending plan will strengthen the caregiver workforce and facilitate greater access to HCBS.”  The increases may be used for staff retention initiatives, PPE, hazard pay, training and infrastructure and/or technology improvements and is available retroactively from May 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.

Virginia – (Virginia Mercury, 03/30/22) Virginia’s behavioral health agency has announced its first new strategic plan in some eight years as the department has been struggling with growing patient volume and other pandemic-related emergencies. Last year former commissioner Alison Land closed more than half of the state’s hospitals to new admissions due to sever staffing shortages and overcrowding which posed a “dangerous” environment.  As a result, advocates and experts are saying the state is not in compliance with a 2014 law ensuring that the state provide a “bed of last resort”. Commissioner Nelson Smith, recently appointed by Gov. Youngkin said, “the agency has also been siloed from other providers, including the private sector and local community service boards. All of these organizations that kind of live in the stovepipes, we want to integrate. It can’t just be that DBHDS has its own plan and [the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association] has theirs. Those things have to be shared.”  In addition to overseeing the state’s psychiatric facilities and coordinating with private partners, the agency is also responsible for licensing residential substance-use disorder providers and managing services for thousands of Virginians with developmental disabilities.