Legislative Update - Funding & Policy Changes

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Hello everyone,

For the past several months, Bear Creek Services has been working with state legislatures to address the severe worker shortage that disabilities services faces on a state-wide level. 

A big reason for the staff shortage is because our terrific Direct Support Professional staffers (DSP's) who work with individuals in our programs do not get paid a living wage by the state.  Working with individuals who have disabilities should not be a hindrance to provide for yourself and your family!

With the legislation that just passed, we can begin to address this problem.  A small increase in funding is set to begin starting January 1, 2020.  However, even with this legislation, DSP's will still not be paid a living wage.  This is our ultimate goal. 

We still do not know how this legislation will impact the Bear Creek Service's budget for 2020.  The legislation requires dozens of individual calculations based on individuals that we support.  We hope to have this information in the near future.

Below is a legislative update prepared for you by ARRM.  ARRM is a nonprofit organization that advocates for more than 200 providers of support services for individuals with disabilities in Minnesota. 

If you have any questions about what is written below, I will attempt to clarify things for you. 

Please reach out to me by phone at (507) 288 - 7195 or by email at lindad@bearcreekservices.org

Legislative Update from ARRM:

  • A Competitive Workforce Factor has been added at 4.7%. This adjustment represents about a 4% increase in services provider rates.

  • Beginning in 2022, inflation adjustments for funding will occur every 2 years.  Previously it was every 5 years.

  • At annual planning meetings, providers must have a conversation about how technology may be used as a part of someone’s services.

  • Many changes were made to training; one highlight is that the Positive Support Specialist and Positive Support Analyst now have 90 days to get their required training.

  • Annual training and Orientation training is now competency based; previously there were hourly minimums.

  • A Technology First Advisory Council has been created with a Commissioner.  ARRM has been granted a seat on the council. The goal of the council is to advise on how to increase the use of supportive technology in services and programs.

  • The commissioner and council will study value-based models and strategies using technology with a report due by October 1st, 2020.

Not Included in the Health and Human Service Bill that we 

  • A proposal that would have capped the number of people receiving waivers was not adopted.

  • A proposal that would have increased 245D provider licensing fees from 25-300% was not adopted.

  • A proposal that would have permanently closed one bed for every two that are vacant for six months or more was not adopted.

Included in the Health and Human Service Bill that we 

  • New language states that for shared respite, the rate shall be the total payment for one individual divided by the number receiving the service, not to exceed three.

  • The Independent Living Specialist (ILS) Service has been removed from the framework and no longer available for providers to provide.

Not Included in the Health and Human Service Bill that we 

  • ARRM’s legislative proposal that would have allowed all Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) --- like our Allendale group home --- to request a variable rate and would have changed the Services During the Day reimbursement rate from 75% of the Day Training & Habilation (DT&H) rate to 100% was not included. 

    What this means for Allendale house:  Bear Creek Services only receives 75% of the funding that would typically be paid if an individual stays home during the day, rather than going to a day program such as ABC, PossAbilities or Opportunity Services. 

  • The Senate amended our language around the 5 bed moratorium extension to 6 beds and removed the sunset language.  There was opposition from the advocacy community around the 6 bed proposal and because of that, the entire proposal, including our language to extend the 5 bed sunset date was not adopted.

Included in the Health and Human Service Bill that we are 
NEUTRAL on and Impacts Members

  • A new definition of residential program has been added to 245A.02

  • New documentation and billing requirements have been added to 256B.4912.  ARRM worked closely to ensure that this language is the least burdensome to providers.

  • The language provides direction and clarity for licensing and providers when a change in ownership occurs

  • Language allowing the department to move forward with Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) was adopted. The language states that any penalty that the department receives due to not coming into Federal compliance cannot be passed along to providers.

  • On an annual basis, providers will be required to submit labor market data. Language is included in the bill directing the commissioner to streamline reporting.

  • A report and proposal to move forward to streamline the four waivers to two is required to the legislature by 2021.

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