Advocacy Efforts for Oregon Disability Services and Funding Continues in Salem

(L – R) – John Griffiths, Larry Deal, Leslie Sutton, Ross Ryan, Lissa Peterson, Kaaren Londahl, Ryley Newport

INW is proud to be part of the Oregon Developmental Disabilities Coalition advocacy efforts with legislators in Salem. There are two more DD Advocacy Days left during the 2018 short session: Tuesday February 27th and Tuesday March 6th, 2018.

Follow this link  to learn more about how you can make your voice heard by connecting with Oregon lawmakers on issues related to eligibility changes and ongoing funding for home and community based services for Oregonians with I/DD.

Advocates Unite Event in Portland Draws Several Key Legislators to Discuss Disability Supports and Resources

Representatives Alissa Keny-Guyer, Rob Nosse, and Carla Piluso meet with disability advocates in Portland to discuss community priorities for the upcoming session.

Independence Northwest is proud to have been a sponsor of last night’s hugely successful disability advocacy event Advocates Unite at Lucky Lab in Portland. Huge thanks to our friends at Urban Advocacy and fellow sponsors Community Pathways Inc., Community Vision, Inclusion Inc., MENTOR Oregon, Oregon Self Advocacy Coalition, and Self-Determination Resources Inc.

Special thanks to legislators Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, Representative Rob Nosse,  and Representative Carla Piluso for coming out in support of our community!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Join Self Advocates Taking Action Group This Friday 02/06/2015 at INW 2pm – 3:30pm

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Self Advocates Taking Action is a self-advocate group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The group meets at Independence Northwest on the first Friday of each month from 2PM – 3:30PM. The next meeting is Friday, February 6th. This month’s agenda includes Employment First updates, Advocacy Party, a presentation by RideWise and information on Voting Rights. Questions? Contact Gayle Gardner at 503.239.3407 or Kaaren Londahl at 503.287.7946. See you there!

Brokerage Association Announces Leadership Changes in 2015

From the Oregon Support Services Association:

In the spirit of the new year, the Oregon Support Services Association announces two changes in leadership. 

Larry Deal, Executive Director of Independence Northwest brokerage, has assumed the role of OSSA President. He follows in the footsteps of Margaret Theisen, whose tenure spanned the birth of the brokerage association and four incredible years of unprecedented growth and change.   We are deeply indebted and grateful to Margaret for her influential and principled leadership. Margaret passed the torch to Larry after the association’s Board of Directors meeting in December.  Larry brings with him 13 years experience in Oregon’s Support Services system, and a deep talent for innovation, communication, and partnership. Dan Peccia of Self Determination Resources Inc. and Bill Uhlman of Eastern Oregon Support Services Brokerage will continue in their roles as Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer respectively.

Additionally, the association will begin a transition from its first Executive Director. For the past year, OSSA has been led by the incomparable Kathryn Weit. Her advocacy, passion, and leadership has greatly furthered the mission of OSSA by promoting, assuring, and protecting the integrity of Support Services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities statewide. We’re excited to announce that beginning in February 2015, Katie Rose will assume the Executive Director role full-time. Katie will be leaving her position of six years as the Director for the Mentor Oregon Brokerage presently serving individuals in the greater Portland area. As OSSA Executive Director, she will report to the OSSA Board of Directors, which consists of the 13 directors of the Oregon Support Services Brokerages.

Katie can be reached at katierose@oregonsupportservices.org beginning February 1, 2015. Stay tuned for additional contact details.

If you’d like to learn more about the association, please visit www.oregonsupportservices.org.

Five Things That Are Working Well in Brokerage Support Services Today

By Larry Deal, Executive Director of Independence Northwest

Over the past year and a half, so much time has been spent deconstructing and reconstructing Oregon’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities system, there’s been little opportunity to sit back and celebrate some of the successes. Here are five things that are currently working well – and that deserve their moment in the sun.

People are getting more services. With the change from 100% Title XIX Waiver to a mix of K Plan and Waiver funding, Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities are getting more services than ever before. This is a wonderful thing. Historically, people in crisis situations had limited resources and little option other than out of home placement (group homes and foster care homes) whether that was their preference or not. In the new system, many Oregonians now have the resources to continue living at home; the current design supports true individual and family choice. The importance of this change cannot be overstated. (That said, there’s still a very real fiscal sustainability discussion that must be had to support these efforts long-term.)

Providers are beginning to expand capacity. This one’s a slower burner, but it’s beginning. Customers, families, and professionals have all been highly concerned about the increase in funding since it came without an ounce of provider capacity expansion planning or incentives. Oregon put the funding before the resources. In recent weeks and months, many agencies have begun reaching out to brokerages and are expanding their services to our community in everything from in-home to employment supports; in 2015, I believe we will see a tangible increase in options for our customer base.

There’s a recent willingness for course correction when things aren’t working. If you haven’t heard of DSA (Day Support Activities,) consider yourself lucky. In short, DSA was an exercise in rushed change implementation. Ultimately, it changed rates, it changed processes, and it changed the definition of certain services. The process upended Brokerage, CDDP (Community Developmental Disabilities Program) and provider organization operations and damaged the integrity of reporting systems statewide. However, collaborative efforts (led by ODDS)  amongst brokerages, CDDPs (counties), providers, and state has made a real difference. Recent changes in leadership have assured a common sense, customer-first approach to problem solving. In other words, there’s strong collaboration happening again in Oregon. This is a very good thing – let’s do more of it.

We’re sticking with our current needs assessment tool. One of the major concerns brokerages have been facing while implementing the still-new functional needs assessment has been knowing full well we’d have to change assessments again at the beginning of 2015. Recent actions from the state suggest that we will be working to make the current brokerage tool (the Adult Needs Assessment) work well into the future. For brokerage customers, this is promising. We need consistency, stability, and some time to do some in-depth analysis on the efficacy of the current tool first. This decision deserves kudos.

Perhaps most significantly, Oregon is focusing on individual goals – again. If you have been working in the system or receiving services for the last year and a half, you’ve no doubt noted the troubling focus on deficits-based language and approach. I remember being in a meeting very, very early on in the K Plan implementation when it was announced by someone with significant influence that “this is no longer about goals, it’s about needs.” Soon, that refrain began to echo. Fortunately, that interpretation is no longer alive and well. What some people didn’t understand early on in the transition process was this: Brokerages have always addressed disability-related support needs. And we have done so while helping people reach their goals. You don’t provide publicly-funded services without making sure needs are documented and necessary. A sophisticated, supportive, holistic system addresses health and safety while placing a premium on the wants, needs, and goals of the individual. We know it can work because we’ve been doing it for thirteen years. I can’t say enough how pleasing it is to hear high-ranking leaders in our state stating that goals matter.

There are many issues we must continue wrestling with: the eXPRS payment system and pending Personal Support Worker entry, the monthly versus annual services issue, the ongoing review of Behavioral Supports, changes to supported employment, and many more. But as we inch ever closer to the new year,  it’s safe to say that we all hope for continued positive developments in the Oregon I/DD service delivery system. We’re a resilient, engaged, and growing community. Fingers crossed we can focus the coming year’s efforts on enhancing, expanding, and enriching the lives and experiences of the individuals, families, and communities we support. Oregon was once at the forefront of community-based services in our country; with continued focus, effort, and partnership there’s no reason that can’t be a reality again.

 

An Update on Systems Vision and Direction from Brokerage Association President Margaret Theisen

On Monday, November 10, 2014, Kathryn Weit, OSSA Executive Director and I participated in a vision and values discussion organized by the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services and the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities. Later in the day I stopped on the way home for groceries and when asked how my day was by the clerk, I said my day was excellent.  I can’t recall the last time I said that about work!  I surprised myself with that comment.

We spent an entire day discussing and refining the language for the values and vision statements that will be used to guide the system that provides services to people with Intellectual / Developmental Disabilities. The people attending the meeting represented all parts of the DD system, including State staff, and all were highly engaged, respectful and positive. It was the first meeting with a constituent group in my recent memory that was not dominated by complaints, whining, and finger pointing.

We don’t have final outcomes on vision or values statements, but within a week we will have the vision statement and we will have values work after that.  I feel very inspired by the day, and I am eager to see the final vision product by the work group.  When that is done later this week, final definition of the values statements we worked on will go forward.  I am on that work group with 6 people including Lilia Teninty, the State DD Director. Finalized, these statements will be shared widely and used to guide future decision making.

Next steps include scheduled discussions on Medicaid and the K Plan with Robin Cooper, an expert on these issues from The National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services in Washington DC. Once we increase our knowledge base with, and understanding of Medicaid and K, Lilia plans to pull together groups to address specific topical areas beginning with case management.

I think Lilia is very much on track and as always, Bill Lynch’s facilitation was important and focused.  While our work didn’t address many of the day-to-day issues we are struggling with, I feel more confidence in our direction than I have in over two years!  I think Monday was a great start to a different/better future!

Margaret Theisen, OSSA President

Independence Northwest Offering Brokerage 101 Forums in Nov/Dec 2014

small101fallflyer

In November and December 2014, Independence Northwest will be offering a series of forums:  Brokerage 101: A Primer on Support Services. The forums are designed for people new to brokerage services – whether just recently referred (in the last year) or considering their options for in-home and community-based supports. You’ll learn where brokerages come from, what we do, and what to expect from our services. These presentations are perfect for students in transition and their families! Topics include: eligibility, funding, the K Plan, the Adult Needs Assessment, case management services, support service options, provider options, person-centered planning, supported employment, and more!

Join us to have your questions answered!

WHEN
Thursday, November 13th from 5:30 – 7:00 PM
Tuesday, December 16th from 5:30 – 7:00 PM

WHERE
Independence Northwest
919 NE 19th Avenue Suite 275 in Portland

RSVP by calling 503.546.2950 or emailing bcooper@independencenw.org. (Space is limited to 30 per session.)

On The Move Founder Molly Mayo Speaks Up Against Planned Changes to Provider Org Services

Friend and advocate of brokerages and the brokerage community Molly Mayo, founder of On-the-Move Community Integration, recently spoke with folks at KBOO about the state’s planned changes to provider organization services. Follow the link below (start at 18 mins or so) to hear Molly explain the community’s serious concerns about changes to service descriptions and provider rates. We share her concerns and applaud her public advocacy efforts and outreach.

 

 

 

A Comment on Changing Rates and Service Definitions from Metro Brokerage Directors to Provider Organizations

Dear Portland Metro-Area Provider Organizations,

We, the six metro-area support services brokerages, wanted to send out a quick note regarding the current status of transitioning service codes, amending plans, and adjusting rates given the potential September 1st changes.

First, we’d like to briefly comment on our current understanding of DSA and Attendant Care services. Based on the DRAFT Expenditure Guidelines we received from the Department of Human Services just last week we believe that provider organizations can perform both Day Support Activities (DSA) as well as Attendant Care services. For details, follow this link to their current work-in-progress: August 2014 Expenditure Guidelines

We have been in talks with the state to request a delay of the September 1st implementation of these changes. Our primary reason for the delay request has to do with the impossible time frames we are faced with as a system to implement this latest sea change. Brokerages need appropriate time to do planning and coordination with customers prior to amending Individual Support Plans (ISPs) and  service agreements, and Providers need time to evaluate the changes and revise their business plans in order to meet the new regime. We hope to hear back from Interim DD State Director Trisha Baxter within the next day or so regarding our request for delayed implementation. (Please note: we are requesting to delay implementation of DSA, but we are not asking for a delay to implementation of Supported Employment changes.)

Our hope is to work with the State on a reasonable timeline for implementation this fall or winter in a thoughtful process that  includes  a stakeholder work group charged with leading and influencing the transition.

As always, we appreciate your patience and partnership as we manage such significant systemic change. Your recent and ongoing advocacy is very much appreciated. Surely, we all agree that a  thoughtful, proactive approach to transition is key to serving our customers and community in the most respectful and productive way possible.

We know there are scores of unanswered questions out there and we are preparing to gain the understanding necessary to respond to them given our limited resources during this transition. Without clarification and without the full participation of our customers, we are not able as of now to amend goals, plans, or service agreements.   Please stay tuned – more details shortly.

Best,

Dan (SDRI), Katie (Mentor), Jennifer (CPI), Larry (INW), Rachel (Inclusion), and Sarah (UCP)

State Delays eXPRS Implementation and Employment Rate Changes to Fall 2014

Late Friday afternoon (05.30.2014), Interim DD Director Trisha Baxter released the following statement to the I/DD community:

“As you are aware we have many priorities that we are focusing on, all with a July 1 implementation date. We have heard from many of you that these converging priorities are causing angst, stress and strain on you, and on the system. We, as well, are discovering the complexities of handling so many moving parts all at once.  As such, based upon feedback from many of you and weighing our internal priorities and commitments with SEIU, CMS and others, we have come up with the following strategy to delay portions of the work and to stage implementation in a more manageable way.  Additional information will be coming out over the coming weeks about the details behind these strategies so please pay close attention to emails and other communications over the coming days.

First, July 1 is a milestone for new employment services to be offered. These services are included in the Medicaid waivers that will be submitted for approval with a July 1 effective date. These new services will still be offered as of July 1. July 1 was also a targeted date for implementation of a new rate structure for employment services for both the comprehensive and support service system. The new rate structure will be finalized next week, however, at the request of multiple providers, we will hold off on implementation of those rates, with the exception of the rates for the new services, until September 1, 2014. The new services, which include Discovery and Job Development will be paid at the new outcome based rates. All other services will continue to be paid at the current, daily rate. This additional time will allow providers of employment services an opportunity to analyze how the new rates will apply to their service arrays. Additional information about the rate transition schedule, and expectations for tracking, billing and reporting of services provided during July and August will be coming shortly.

Additionally, we have been challenged to provide training to the large number of personal support workers, CDDP and Brokerage staff, and other providers on the new plan entry and claims process within the eXPRS system. In order to allow more time for training and other associated activities, we are delaying the implementation of Plan of Care functionality to September 1, 2014 as well. We will be working with partners, including SEIU and providers, to develop an implementation plan from September 1 forward, beginning with employment services. The delayed schedule and restaging of activities is important to assure successful implementation, but it does not deter or alter the strategic or programmatic outcomes the changes are designed to achieve.

There is much work to be done over the upcoming months to ensure that individuals experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities continue to receive services and that those providing the services are paid accordingly. We thank all of you for your continued work with us as we pull together plans for full implementation. As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.”  – Trisha Baxter

What to Expect Between Now and July 1st, 2014

By Larry Deal
Executive Director

There are just 40 working days left between now and the end of the current fiscal year, June 30, 2014. Over the past year, that mid-summer date has been a much-publicized target for many changes in the Oregon’s developmental disabilities brokerage system. You’ve no doubt heard many times over: “this, that, or the other has to be done by July 1st”. This includes significant changes such as ensuring all 7,500 or so brokerage customers have been assessed with the new Functional Needs Assessment, ensuring that all providers are signed up in the state’s payment system, and preparing for having the state take over direct payment to all brokerage providers.  In some areas of the state, customers are changing fiscal intermediaries as well. (Here at INW, this is not the case.)

There’s a lot happening. We understand that change can be confusing, frustrating and overwhelming. Sometimes all three. So here’s a cheat sheet for what you need to tend to in the next forty days.

If you’re a customer or a representative designee:

  • Be sure to respond to your Personal Agent’s (or a state worker’s) call to complete the new Functional Needs Assessment. It’s essential these are completed for everyone by June 30th. This allows the state to draw down increased federal funding via the new K Plan. Additionally, be ready to revise your plan to make some language changes. Your PA will help you with that.
  • If you have a provider, be sure that s/he has filled out a Provider Enrollment Agreement. We want to be sure they can continue to get paid after the state takes over payment (currently planned for July 1st.)
  • One great way to better understand the changes is to attend one of INW’s community forums. We have two scheduled in May.

If you’re a provider of brokerage services:

  • Make sure the customers you serve have scheduled a Functional Needs Assessment with their PA (or a state worker.) If they need some support during the assessment and would like you to assist, offer your help.
  • If you have not already, you must apply for and receive a Medicaid provider number. Sign up by filling out the Provider Enrollment Agreement form as soon as possible.
  • If you have already applied for a provider number, but haven’t heard back from the state, please contact them directly at DD-MH.OHCC@state.or.us
  • If we’ve contacted you about updating your Criminal History Check, be sure you respond quickly. All PSWs must have a CHC completed every two years. You cannot be paid without a current check on file.
  • Attend one of the upcoming Personal Support Worker webinars. There are currently three scheduled. The webinars will give you basic details on the state’s payment system (eXPRS) and how the way you’ll be paid is changing. Click here to learn more.
  • Attend one of INW’s community forums.

If there are changes to the deadlines or expectations (and there may be), we’ll keep you updated via additional mailing. In the meantime, keep an eye on the INW blog or our Facebook page for the latest. As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve you, your family, and this community.

 

 

May 2014: Join Independence Northwest for a Community Forum on Changes to Brokerage Services

Our May 2014 Big Changes in Brokerage Services Community Forum dates are set! Join us on Thursday May 22nd at 6pm or Friday May 23rd at 10am. Learn more about the K Plan, the upcoming needs assessment requirement, new options for case management, plans for a new universal ISP, changes to provider payment and rates, and much more. We’ve got lots of details to share. Join us!

RSVP to Rachel at 503.546.2950 or by emailing rkroll@independencenw.org.

May2014CustomerForum

April 2014 Community Forum Dates Announced – Learn About the Big Changes to Brokerage Services

Our April 2014 Big Changes in Brokerage Services Community Forum dates are set! Join us on Wednesday April 2nd from 10AM – 11:30AM or Wednesday April 23rd from 6PM – 7:30PM. Learn more about the K Plan, the upcoming needs assessment requirement, new options for case management, plans for a new universal ISP, changes to provider payment and rates, and much more. We’ve got lots of details to share. Join us!

RSVP to Rachel at 503.546.2950 or by emailing rkroll@independencenw.org.

BigChangesApril2014

Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities Launches “Expect Me to Succeed, I Will” Campaign

The Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities kicked off DD Awareness Month at the Oregon State Capitol this past Friday. At the event, they premiered a brand new video: “Expect Me to Succeed, I Will.” Take a minute or two to check out this excellent message and beautifully executed content from OCDD. Great start to the month!

INW Presents a Free 3-Day Healthy Lifestyles Class in February

Healthy_Lifestyles_Flyer

Healthy Lifestyles for People with Disabilities is a holistic wellness workshop designed for people with disabilities.  The workshop embodies the self-determination model, and its ultimate goal is to give participants the tools they need to evaluate their lives and identify the areas in which they would like to improve to make positive changes.

The workshop is divided into five modules including: Emotional Health, Social Health, Physical Health, Spiritual Health & Health through Meaningful Activities.  Be prepared to share stories, participate in fun exercise activities, identify your dreams and learn useful tools that will help you live a happy, healthy and fun life!

  • When: Feb 12th, Feb 13th and Feb 14th from 8:30AM – 4:30PM
  • Where: East Portland Police Precinct (737 SE 106th Ave in Portland
  • Free lunch and snacks provided!

RSVP your space by calling Rachel at 503.546.2950 or emailing rachel@independencenw.org. We look forward to seeing you there!

Guest Blog: Proposed Rate Cuts to Provider Organizations Threaten Innovation

Our first blog post of 2014 is an important one. Late in 2013, word came from the Oregon Office of Developmental Disabilities Services that they were planning to significantly reduce Small Group Inclusion and Skills Training rates paid to provider organizations. Upon review, brokerages immediately responded explaining such a decision would put many small business completely out of business, reducing key resources for our customers statewide.  In the weeks since that exchange, small provider agencies in the Portland metro area (led by On The Move Community Integration, Creative Goal Solutions and Trellis) have come together to form a grassroots coalition (known as The Coalition of Provider Organizations.) Their aim is to educate the state, legislators and the general public on their services and fight the potential reductions in rates. The group developed a comprehensive white paper on their concerns (read it here: Provider Organization Coalition Paper) and, in December of 2013, presented to and gained the support of the I/DD Coalition. As a result of their efforts, state leadership has agreed to meet with some small agencies this week as they reconsider the rates. Our understanding is that the state will need to publicly share their methodology and reasoning and has committed to entertaining stakeholder input and education throughout the process. Given the stakes, full engagement is key.

Sasha Vidales, Owner and Director of Creative Goal Solutions, one of the most sought-after agencies in the Portland area is today's guest blogger for the Independence Northwest blog. Below, she shares what this all means from a provider organization, small-business owner and concerned community member perspective.

Sasha Vidales, Director of Creative Goal Solutions


Sasha Vidales, Director of Creative Goal Solutions, one of the most sought-after agencies in the Portland area is today’s guest blogger for the Independence Northwest blog. Below, she shares what this all means from a provider organization, small-business owner and concerned community member perspective.

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“Proposed Rate Cuts to Provider Organizations Threaten Innovation”

By Sasha Vidales, Director of Creative Goal Solutions

While Oregon is moving to the K-Plan, many customers are seeing increased access to funding for their services. But simultaneously, provider organizations’ hourly rates are slated to be cut by almost 18%. Perhaps most affected by these cuts are smaller, local, grass-roots organizations who have sprung up in response to the diverse needs of brokerage customers; programs like Creative Goal Solutions, which I started in 2011 to offer fully-integrating community-based services to adults with developmental disabilities. Already operating on a shoe string budget and my personal investment, the proposed rate would unquestionably force Creative Goal Solutions to close its doors within just a couple of months.


The greatest detriment would be to the individual customers served by Creative Goal Solutions, customers like Annie Rose. When Annie Rose started working with Creative Goal Solutions, she had the same goals as most twenty-somethings—to move out on her own, get a job, have new life experiences, and exert her independence. Through working with CGS, she had the opportunity to explore her greater community in a group setting. “I like Creative Goal Solutions because it gets me out of the house. I like meeting new people. I discovered new foods…I enjoy going to the park… camping was lots of fun. I like going to the library and art showings.” Soon after her start, Annie decided to move into her own apartment. CGS staff helped her establish a routine around cooking and cleaning that would increase her success as she transitioned. Knowing the importance of community connectedness, staff also helped Annie explore her immediate community on foot and on bus to find new hang-outs. She now independently works out at her local community center and has some favorite local shops and cafes, all the while staying involved in CGS’ group community inclusion. A while later, Annie also took on various volunteer jobs. With staff support, Annie Rose works alongside community members and other customers to gain job skills and give back to her community.
“I like doing Zenger Farms,” says Annie Rose, “I really like gardening and don’t do enough. Now I get to go out once a week and it’s a relief. I’m suddenly happy! I’ve noticed the weeds have gotten enormous and tough to pull out. I’m proud that I can pull them out.”Annie is just one of the over 40 customers flourishing with the support of Creative Goal Solutions’ unique service model. When I started Creative Goal Solutions, I was excited to use innovative strategies to develop meaningful, community-integrating experiences for our customers. I envisioned services that would empower each customer to become involved citizens and create meaningful visibility for themselves. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve assembled a team of highly creative, motivated and skilled employees to put this vision into action. Now, we boast a diverse array of programs to accomplish that vision.What I didn’t realize upon CGS’ inception, was the tremendous value of the group-model. Customers learn so much from each other and there is often a lot of camaraderie, connectedness and natural support developed. At the same time, the model differs drastically from facility-based models in that customers are making daily, “real-life” contact with their communities through recreation and volunteering. Many customers and parents, including Laurie Burk, have noticed the difference.
“[The facility-based program he attended prior to CGS]… provided little or no outside community activities. There was nothing special about the program. I likened it to a daycare center. Since attending CGS, he has shown much improvement. We believe this to be directly related to attending outings to places that “regular” people go. I don’t think many people who are not affected by developmental disabilities understand the secluded life of a young person with disabilities and what they face day in and day out… Just because he has a disability doesn’t mean he doesn’t have worth.”Our Volunteer Program connects and teaches customers at six different community organizations, including The Rebuilding Center, SCRAP, Hoyt Arboretum, Impact NW, the Bike Farm, and Zenger Farms. All of these sites give our customers job-like experience where they can gain skills and confidence working right alongside community volunteers. The program has been tremendously impactful in our customers’ social well-being and sense of worth and individual contribution.

Nightlife Group at local pub

Nightlife Group at local pub

We also provide fully-integrating recreation experiences. The programming is diverse, offering many activities not commonly accessible to people with developmental disabilities. We fill the monthly calendar with customer-preferred activities, such as bowling and libraries and unique experiences, such as attending the Feast of Guadalupe concert, Leech Botanical Gardens, and a tour of the Human Society. We also offer a Nightlife Group. Through this, many customers have their first experiences going to activities like stand-up comedy, salsa dancing and pub trivia. Additionally, our camping trips afford customers the opportunity to be away from home with a group of friends and foster budding friendships through exploring nature.


At Creative Goal Solutions, we continually challenge what others think possible. Those with seemingly significant barriers are equally engaged through our program. Oxana Betska, a mother of one such customer wrote, “[Though he is] nonverbal, he is very social. He wants to be around people, go places, learn new things… [at CGS] he is taught how to behave around other people, how to treat them properly. We can definitely see the progress he has made paying attention to the instructions he was given, evaluating the situation which can be new for him, becoming more independent and mature. The program has helped my son gain self-esteem. Through the program our son volunteers at the retirement center. He has a wonderful time there!”
Volunteering at Bike Farm

Volunteering at Bike Farm


Writes Matthew Burk, customer and self-advocate, “I like the format where we meet at the office and board mass transit and go to different places like Fazio Farm, The Old Church for a lunch time concert, the Rose Garden up near the zoo, the zoo, and the game room down at PSU among other cool places. My favorite part of the program is that being a boy from SE Portland I get to see the other parts of the city that I never knew existed. If cuts were to be made I’m not sure what I would do. Without CGS I would go back to being a couch potato and having no routine.”


Despite our customer’s successes, we’ve experienced significant barriers when it comes to a functional and sustainable business model, having to fit a square peg in the proverbial round hole. Our program model of fully-integrating group experiences does not fit well in the current provider rate structure. Most traditional services are provided with one staff per one customer or take place in a facility. Our services don’t fit either of those models and our way of providing services comes with substantial added costs as well as barriers to be able to bill for the full rate. Despite these barriers, we’ve persevered. We’re proud to be one of the handful of truly unique, local, grass-roots organizations with truly unique services to offer.

Rock wall climbing

Rock wall climbing


It’s hard to imagine the local impact of all of these customers losing the visibility and community presence that we’ve worked so hard to promote. Observing our customers’ growth in confidence and self-efficacy over the past two years has been one of the most impactful experiences of my life. Equally important, I’ve seen our community’s response to our customers. I believe that through our work, we’ve begun to shift how people understand disability. They are witnessing all that people with developmental disabilities are capable of contributing, and, with time, learning how essential they are to the fabric of our community.


We’ve accomplished a lot in just over two years. I have many more ideas that I’m actively implementing: a self-employment program, a healthy lifestyles group, and leveraging our culturally-competent, 50% Spanish-speaking staff to better engage Latino customers. Yet, my intense passion and enthusiasm is met with a very real possibility of closure. I’m working hard to push back against the proposed cuts. I’ve co-formed a coalition of small provider organizations, including On-the-Move Community Integration and Trellis to express our alarm and the potential impact of cuts. We’re meeting with decision-makers at the State level as well as other affected provider organizations. I am also counting on the support of families, professionals, self-advocates, community members and the decision-makers at DHS to halt rate cuts and make the growth and development of our innovative program, and others like it, to flourish… for the betterment of our customers and the betterment of our communities.


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ABOUT

Sasha Vidales has worked in community services for 14 years in mental health, policy research, training development, case management, quality assurance and other capacities. She has a BA in Psychology and an MBA in Organizational Behavior and is trained as an Autism Specialist and Social Sexual Consultant. Sasha founded Creative Goal Solutions in 2011 because of her belief in and commitment to strong communities. She knows that strengthening communities requires meaningful and full integration for all people. If you are interested in learning more or joining the coalition, contact Sasha at sasha.vidales@creativegoalsolutions.org.

Join Us for a Community Forum at INW this Month

2013JanuaryForum

Independence Northwest continues its community outreach on big changes to brokerage and I/DD services in Oregon. Since August, we’ve held many highly successful community forums presenting to over 400 community members – and we’ve got two more scheduled for the month of January!

Join us if you’d like to learn more about the K Plan, the upcoming needs assessment requirement, new options for case management, plans for a new universal ISP, changes to provider payment and rates and much more.

Remember to RSVP by calling our front desk 503.546.2950. You may also email us at rkroll@independencenw.org. Space is limited, so reserve your space at one of our evening or day sessions today!

Big thanks to all the families, customers, providers and community members who have joined us in the past few weeks. Your questions, comments, concern and input continue to make a difference in the restructure of the I/DD system!

Tomorrow 11/26/2013: Join Us at the Portland Public Schools Community Transition Resource Fair from 12 – 7

resourcefairsmall

Join Us at the Portland Public School Transition Resource Fair tomorrow from 12 noon to 7PM. The fair will be held on the Green Thumb campus: 6801 SE 60th Avenue in Portland. INW will be there along with the other metro area brokerages. We’ll also be putting on a couple of presentations related to brokerage services. See you there!

SPEAKERS

  • 1:00- Transition Requirements:  Setting the Stage for successful Movement from High School to Adulthood
  • 1:30- PCC Disabilities
  • 2:00-Portland Public Schools
  • Community Transition Program                    
  • 2:30- Brokerage Service Basics
  • 3:15- Changes to Brokerage Services
  • 4:00- Transition Students and Alumni
  • 4:45- Plan for Work: Work Incentives Planning and Assistance- Plan for Work
  • 5:30- Phame/Club Impact

Meet up with many organizations supporting adults with I/DD in our community, including:

  • PPS Transition Program
  • Student-Run Businesses
  • PCC- Culinary Program
  • PCC- Skills Center
  • PCC-Disability Services
  • Incight
  • Trips Inc.
  • Special Olympics
  • Off the Couch
  • Club Impact
  • Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp
  • PHAME
  • ARC
  • Oregon RISE
  • 211 Info.
  • IEP Partners
  • Safety Zone
  • SPEAC
  • Oregon First
  • Disability Rights of Oregon
  • Autism Society of Oregon
  • FACT Oregon
  • NAMI
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Portland Habilitation Center- PHC
  • CTP Vocational Training
  • DePaul- Project Search
  • Pathways to Independence
  • Independence Northwest
  • Inclusion
  • Mentor Oregon Brokerage
  • UCP Connections
  • Multnomah County Aging and Disabilities
  • Multnomah County DD
  • WIPA Program
  • RideWise
  • Albertina Kerr
  • On the Move