From a friend in south Florida comes this holiday message.
Karen R Wagner PhD, BCBA-D, LMHC
Behavior Services of Brevard, Inc/TheBehaviorAnalyst.com
“Just in time for the holidays, APD is in a big push to discontinue services. Those of you who have been around for a while may recognize this from several years ago, when notifications of reductions went out on Christmas eve, so those who were on vacation could not respond until it was too late. Blaming the local folks is probably unwarranted, they will be fired if they talk to anyone, and the mandates are coming from a higher source. However, services are being cut without notification. One of our consumers finally received official notification three weeks after funding ran out, after his mother exchanged several emails with the area office. We have several consumers whose services were cut in the past few weeks without notification to the WSC, consumer, or ourselves, as providers. It seems to be picking up speed, as I would guess the plan is to slash services by the end of the year.
It seems there are several other things to prevent a fair defense of necessary services. APD has told WSCs that all documentation must be sent digitally, however, the email portal is abnormally small, so the digital files cannot be sent. After sending several times, many WSCs have to split files into several smaller files, multiplying the probability of the documentation being lost in the flurry of activity. Most of the requested documentation is already in the consumer’s files at APD, so the reasons for requesting the documentation are fuzzy at best.
APD seems to have discontinued the Notice of Intent to reduce or deny services, in favor of an “Agency Action”, which just tells you the services are cut. Parents don’t seem to be getting these until after the service has been discontinued. Parents still only have 10 days from the receipt of the letter to respond. Please contact your parent advocacy resources, parent group members, and most importantly, YOUR LEGISLATORS!
One thing to be aware of: Despite the gloomy financial forecasting, state funding has never come from real estate taxes, or unemployment funds, or local municipalities. Most agencies, including APD have always been funded by Florida sales taxes and other sources, the income from which have not changed much in the past few years. It is impossible to find accurate income figures state-wide. So why are services being slashed to consumers? This appears to be a created crisis, giving legislators an opportunity to cut “social welfare” programs.
Medwaiver also has a sizable federal matching component, and based on recent figures, the “deficit” numbers seem to exclude the contributing federal match dollars, artificially inflating the shortfall. However, since the budget was set by the legislators, and has been shrinking every year, “shortfall” seems to be a misnomer.
Spread the word to consumers, families and advocates to check their mail, PO boxes, the consumer’s mail (if they live independently), or anywhere else the consumer may receive mail. Requests for reconsiderations and hearings may need to be sent during the holidays. Wish there was better news.”
Enjoy your Holy Days and keep squeaking those wheels. We need to make enough noise – we need to be heard.