Oregon Disability Services Face Cuts – Your Voice is Needed this Saturday in Portland

Oregon is currently facing at a significant budget deficit and in order to deal with the issue, our state legislature is looking at places to reduce, discontinue, or rearrange funding. There are several areas the legislature is considering cuts in the coming months, many of which were outlined in the Governor’s Proposed Budget:

  • A reduction in brokerage and county/CDDP case management funding
  • Elimination of the Family Network program
  • Elimination of Regional crisis services
  • Elimination of the Fairview Housing Trust Fund
  • Partial rate increase to Direct Support Provider wages

You can learn all about the proposed budget cuts and adjustments in this great article by brokerage association director Katie Rose. Remember, these are cuts mentioned only in the Governor’s budget – legislators may be looking at other ways to adjust funding to balance the budget.

How You Can Help

This Saturday, attend the Town Hall at PCC Sylvania in Portland! The Joint Committee on Ways and Means has scheduled a series of Town Hall meetings across the state. Having advocates from the I/DD community show up and give testimony at these public budget hearings is very important.  This is a unique opportunity to tell legislators what your services mean to you and why keeping service networks strong is important for you and your family. We have heard that legislators aren’t getting a lot of feedback from the community on services – please take this chance to make your voice heard.

What to expect if you go? Be prepared for large crowds, and plan to arrive early, especially if you want to sign up to give testimony (at least 1 to 1 ½ hours early). The sign-up sheet for testimony fills up quickly. Even if you don’t plan to give testimony, your presence at these events, wearing or waving something yellow in support of the DD Community, will send the message to legislators that the DD Community is unified in its support of DD programs and services.

RSVP and connect on the event Facebook page here.

When: Saturday February 11th 12 – 2pm (Be there as early as 10:30 or 11:00 if you want to speak!)
Where: Main Mall, Amo DeBernardis CC Building
PCC, Sylvania campus 12000 SW 49th Ave, Portland

To support your participation in these statewide budget town halls, the I/DD Coalition will ensure a host will be on site at the event to provide you with fact sheets, advocacy stickers and more. Please register for this event via Facebook to stay informed and receive the latest information.

Thanks to our friends at the I/DD Coalition and GO! Project for their great work organizing the community and providing the content for this post.

 

INW Hosting Day and Evening Info Sessions on Adult In-Home Services this October

What’s Changing?

In the last few weeks, Personal Support Workers and brokerage customers should have received information directly from the State of Oregon and/or SEIU regarding an important change just around the corner. For a good many years, TNT Fiscal Intermediary Services has issued paychecks for PSWs serving our customers. TNT’s contract with the state ends at the end of 2016 and a new agency, PCG Public Partnerships LLC (known as PPL) will be taking over this responsibility. So in the very near future, Personal Support Workers will stop getting payment from TNT and start getting payment from PPL.

 

What does this mean to Personal Support Workers and Customer-Employers?

Generally speaking, it means that Personal Support Workers and employers (be they a brokerage customer or a legal designee) have some paperwork to fill out. Right now, PPL is sending out mailers to three groups of folks:

  • Employers (customers or their designees) who employ PSWs (You’ll get a packet by mail on or around November 4th, 2016)
  • Personal Support Workers who work for one Employer (customer or their designee) (You’ll get a packet by mail on or around November 7th, 2016)
  • Personal Support Workers who work for two or more Employers (customers or their designees)  (You’ll get a packet by mail on or around November 8th, 2016)

Customer-Employers and Personal Support Workers can return their packets in a variety of ways: by mail, fax, or secure email.

 

What Help Is Available?

If you’d like some hands-on help, consider attending one of the optional Enrollment Information and Help Sessions for Employers and PSWs. Multiple sessions will be held here at Independence Northwest and there are sessions in all three metro area counties. RSVP for a session by clicking here. If you have received your packet, you can bring it to the session in your area to receive hands-on help. If you haven’t received it by the time the session you want to attend happens, they’ll print a packet for you there and assist you in person.

You can also call PPL Customer Services for help. Their number is listed on this flyer or you can visit this website.The state’s eXPRS Facebook page has a ton of resources related to the change as well.

 

Transition time is very tight on this, so be sure you’re responsive and get the help you need! If packets are not completed and processed by the end of the year, payment for services may be affected. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to PPL for help.

We Need Your Help: Brokerage Case Management Funding Faces Reduction Next Week

Dear Customers, Family Members, and Providers,

I’m writing you to ask for your help.

On Monday, Legislators meet to make final budget decisions and Brokerages statewide may receive cuts to our administrative and case management funding. Your support can make all the difference in making sure that doesn’t happen.

If you have a spare couple of minutes between now and Friday, we would greatly appreciate your support. A quick email to the legislators listed below or just a call to their offices will go a long way. Ask them to support “funding of the Workload Model at 95% and no less!”

I have come to know many of you over the past couple of years as INW has done outreach to the community, educating hundreds and hundreds of community members on the systemic changes, specifically the K Plan (Community First Choice Option). While the K Plan has brought a lot of funding into the system to pay for direct services, it has not added a penny to our administrative budgets. Personal Agents who were supporting 45 people historically managed about a half million dollars in Medicaid funds on behalf of customers and providers. Today, many manage double, triple, and quadruple that. Think about the way you’ve seen your plan or the plans of others change over the past two years and multiply that by 7,800, the number of people brokerages serve statewide. The change has been huge. Add to that the Adult Needs Assessment requirement, the unfunded burden of the eXPRS payment system implementation, our Personal Agents now entering timesheets on behalf of many providers, the state’s change to a much longer and more complicated ISP, and enormous systemic shifts, and we are in no place to take a statewide reduction in funding. I believe that some lawmakers may be confusing the K increase with an overall funding increase and it’s just not the case.

I have included a couple of example letters you might use as a template for your email or as a script for your phone call. If you could contact the legislators listed below (whether you live in their district or not) it would be great! If you’re interested in additional details about the Workload Model issue, check out this in-depth explanation: Brokerage Reductions at 90%.

The importance of your support is immeasurable to us right now. I wouldn’t ask for last-minute action if I didn’t believe it could change the future. Your voice will make all the difference between a continued move toward better and more person-centered services versus a world where we may be looking at increased caseloads and a reduction in overall quality for a system known for its innovation, responsiveness, and vision. Our system has taken enough hits this past biennium.

Best to you and yours and thank you again for your support and the opportunity to serve this community.

Larry Deal
Executive Director

 

Legislators to Contact

Representative Deborah Boone Rep.DeborahBoone@state.or.us 503-986-1432
Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer Rep.AlissaKenyGuyer@state.or.us 503-986-1446
Representative Nancy Nathanson Rep.NancyNathanson@state.or.us 503-986-1413
Representative Andy Olson Rep.AndyOlson@state.or.us 503-986-1415
Representative Duane Stark Rep.duanestark@state.or.us 503-986-1404
Senator Alan Bates Sen.AlanBates@state.or.us 503-986-1703
Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward Sen.ElizabethSteinerHayward@state.or.us 503-986-1717
Senator Jackie Winters Sen.JackieWinters@state.or.us 503-986-1710


SAMPLE LETTER FROM CUSTOMER/FAMILY MEMBERS

Dear LEGISLATOR,

I am a customer of OR a family member of a person who receives brokerage services for people with IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities) here in Oregon. I understand that you are making budgetary decisions next week regarding funding for case management. PLEASE FUND BROKERAGES AT THE 95% WORKLOAD MODEL LEVEL – AND NO LESS.

While the Community First Choice Option (K Plan) brought more services to me/my family, it did not add any additional funding for brokerages to administer double and triple the services they have administered historically. We need to know that our brokerage Personal Agent will be responsive when we need him/her. If you reduce funding, we know that increased caseloads are likely. That means we won’t have access to the services we need as quickly. Some of the services I receive right now are: __________________________________. The time I need my brokerage support the most is to help me ______________________________.

Statewide, brokerages have experienced huge increases in workload related to the K Plan, the state’s much more complicated ISP, the eXPRS payment system, and all the paperwork changes. I rely on these services to live an independent life in the community. Please fund brokerages fairly in the next biennium – 95% and no less.

Thank you for your consideration and your service.

YOUR NAME

_________

SAMPLE LETTER FROM PROVIDER/PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKER

Dear LEGISLATOR,

I am a Personal Support Worker/Employee/Provider of services for a person who receives brokerage services for adults with IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities) here in Oregon. I understand that you are making budgetary decisions next week regarding funding for IDD case management. PLEASE FUND BROKERAGES AT THE 95% WORKLOAD MODEL LEVEL – AND NO LESS.

While the Community First Choice Option (K Plan) brought more services to the people I serve, it did not add any additional funding for brokerages to administer double and triple the services they have administered historically. We need to know that the brokerage Personal Agents we work with will be responsive when customer needs arise – including processing payment to providers like me. If you reduce funding, we know that increased caseloads are likely, meaning slower response time for getting essential needs met. As a provider, I rely on the brokerage for ___________________________________________.

Statewide, brokerages have experienced huge increasing in workload related to the K Plan, the state’s much more complicated ISP, the eXPRS payment system, and all the paperwork changes. The people I support rely on these services to live an independent life in the community and my livelihood is reliant on this program. Please fund brokerages fairly in the next biennium – 95% and no less.

Thank you for your consideration and your services.

YOUR NAME

 

Upcoming Public Hearings in Gresham and Portland Re: Potential I/DD Service Cuts

Oregon is well on its way to crafting a final budget for the next two years.  Right now, the word is that there will be cuts to programs for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). As part of the process of gathering public input, the Ways and Means committee is traveling around Oregon in a roadshow, holding public hearings and inviting people to come speak to their priorities for state funding.

The Ways and Means committee needs to see the I/DD community, they need to hear the I/DD community, and they need to walk away from that roadshow knowing that people all over Oregon value services to people with I/DD!

We encourage anyone who is concerned about the future of supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities to make attendance at these events a high priority!

See this press release from the Oregon Legislature to find a hearing location near you:

https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/courtney/Documents/JWMadvisory_LO.pdf

In the tri-county area, mark your calendars for:

Thursday April 16th in Gresham – Mt. Hood Community College 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Tuesday April 21st in Portland – PCC Rock Creek Campus 7:00 – 8:30 PM

We hope to see you there! Your voice matters!

Via Katie Rose, Executive Director of Oregon Support Services Association

 

Potential Budget Cuts to Brokerage Funding – Your Help is Needed!

Distressing news out of the capitol: lawmakers may be looking to cut $140 million from human services in order to fund a budget “hole.”  The question is, what does a $140 million cut to human services look like?  Though plan hours are not likely to be cut, vulnerable areas include provider pay rates and Brokerage funding for Personal Agents.  Brokerage Personal Agents and direct support providers have worked to implement dozens of system changes over the past two years.  With these changes has come a lot of additional workload and responsibilities, which is already cutting into the bottom line: time spent with Brokerage customers.  Any reduction in funding is going to cut further into that time.

 

Now is the perfect time to flex your advocacy muscles.  Advocacy is defined as “the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy,” and if you’re a human, chances are you’ve been engaging in advocacy your entire life.  Some people are certainly more comfortable speaking their minds than others.  The trick to being a good advocate isn’t about becoming a perfect speaker, it’s about finding the right message for you.  When you find a cause or idea that is true to your heart and soul, you will find that the words flow much more easily.

 

How have your Brokerage services helped you to live the life that you choose?  Please call, email, or visit your state representatives and senators, and let them know how important your Brokerage services are to you!  For more information, check out the Oregon I/DD Coalition’s special bulletin on the current need for advocacy.  You can find your legislators, and see the list of legislators on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services, the joint committee in charge of making legislative budget recommendations.  You can also get talking points and more information about each of the Coalition’s four priorities: Employment, restoring the Fairview Housing Trust, raising DSP wages, and funding Brokerage and county case management at 95%.  Each of the four priorities were selected because they fund the cornerstones of a full and meaningful life in Oregon’s communities. Even small cuts to the 95% Case Management funding mean losses for Brokerages from last biennium, at a time when workload has greatly increased.  Let your legislators know that overworked/underfunded PAs mean that you can’t get the services you want, when you want them.  Urge them to fund the Workload Model for Brokerages and counties at 95%!

 

– Katie Rose, Executive Director of Oregon Support Services Association

Brokerage and Disability Advocates Testify to Oregon Legislative Ways and Means Committee

Ruth Geislinger

INW Brokerage Customer Ruth Geislinger Testifies at the  Capitol

On Thursday, February 19th, 2015, brokerage representatives once again went before a legislative committee to advocate for our services. This go round, advocates provided input to the Joint Ways and Means Committee. Independence Northwest customer Ruth Geislinger provided moving testimony about how important her services are to helping her live a full, independent life in the community. And brokerage association Executive Director Katie Rose educated lawmakers on the need for appropriate funding to maintain quality services as expectations and regulations increase workloads across the state. Additionally, Leslie Sutton, of the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities provided testimony on the Fairview Housing Trust Fund being removed from the Governor’s proposed budget; those funds had been earmarked long ago to provide housing opportunities for people with disabilities.

Other testimony on the video include our friends at the Oregon Rehabilitation Association, Edwards Center, FACT, the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities, county partners, and several other provider organizations, self-advocates, and family members.

Check out the full video here. Testimony from Leslie, Katie, and Ruth begin at 50 minutes.

 

 

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