Are you ready for the changes in your operations, expenses, and revenue?

workingAfter a decade of state budget cuts and rate freezes to providers and regional centers, the federal government enacted two new policy initiatives that compel the state to look at the delivery system for those with developmental disabilities.

The first initiative comes from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which issued new regulations in February of 2014 defining what it will finance under state waivers in our Medi-Cal service system. Specifically, the regulations establish new requirements for settings of residential, day, and employment services, which will require California to make dramatic changes to the DDS/Regional Center System. Philosophically, it maximizes personal choice and community integration for consumers. It also sets up circumstances under which the federal Medicaid dollars will NOT be allowed absent evidence of compliance.  CMS has provided guidance for residential and non-residential programs and materials to guide states in planning their transitions.  The state has until March of 2019 to become fully compliant in all services.

California has submitted a “Transition Plan” through the Department of Health Care Services to cover all eight of the state’s waivers under HCBS.  The waiver with the largest population is the DDS waiver, so DDS has formed a Transition Plan Advisory Group (which includes CDSA representatives) that is addressing how to evaluate programs and identify what services can reach compliance, as well as how to communicate about the transition process to consumers, families, and providers.

The second initiative is the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed by President Obama in 2014.  It renews some programs and changes federal policy regarding both job training programs and vocational rehabilitation programs and their funding.  As a result, the US Department of Labor and US Department of Education are detailing new policy initiatives that prioritize access to integrated competitive employment (at or above minimum wage) for youth and adults with disabilities.  There are also new reporting and outcome measures that will prompt state government to undertake new service and program designs to show they are responding to the new mandates beginning July of 2016.

The next few years are going to be years of retooling and redesigning services for all persons with disabilities in California, including those under the DDS community service system. The caseload in California far exceeds most states, so the work ahead is daunting and fraught with confusion and fiscal risk.

If there ever was a time when providers need information, communication and participation, this is it! CDSA is the statewide association already established and committed to staffing, advocating, and building the provider voice across service lines in California. It’s time to join this effort if you want to understand what’s coming and want to participate in shaping it.  Having colleagues and peers to share ideas, information and advocacy will provide you with much needed support and prompt feedback. Not only are many program operations in potential jeopardy but critical feedback from consumers and families will allow you to make the best business decisions to survive the biggest changes proposed in the Lanterman Act system in California in over 40 years!