With an eye on this mission and FSSA Secretary Debra Minott's goal of developing a service based culture, DDRS has hired new staff and realigned itself to better meet the needs of self-advocates, families and providers. Each department in DDRS is focused on data collection and tracking to set a baseline for performance goals and increase transparency. Ms. Norvell encouraged providers to continue communicating openly with her office and noted the need for productive collaboration to build a sustainable system of services.
Ms. Norvell then addressed the new Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) definition put forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). In response, the state will begin assessing Indiana's system of services to determine to what extent they meet the newly-established standards defining home and community. Additional information regarding Indiana's response to the HCBS rule will be made available through both DDRS and INARF.
In addition, Ms. Norvell outlined the work of the Bureau of Quality Improvement Services (BQIS) and credited Shelly Thomas' efforts to manage the Bureau during recent administrative transitions. She also reported that BQIS was in the process of selecting a quality improvement vendor, as the current vendor's contract is at the end of its six year term. The new contract includes an expanded scope to permit complaint investigations on weekends and to process reports 24 hours a day. She assured providers that they would be informed of changes as the vendor selection process progresses.
Ms. Norvell then introduced Kylee Hope, Director of the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services. Ms. Hope reported that she had been working with the INARF Vocational Rehabilitation Rate Reform Workgroup to analyze and make recommendations to improve the current Results Based Funding structure. As part of this work, the Workgroup is identifying core principles for the system, best practices that lead to preferred outcomes and clarifying definitions and expectations system wide. She also reviewed VR staff changes, and identified key staff members including Kristina Blankenship, Director of Business and Community Engagement and Elizabeth Adedokun who was recently named Director of Policy and Due Process.
Next, Ms. Norvell welcomed Cathy Robinson, Director of the Bureau of Child Development. Ms. Robinson reported that First Steps will submit its annual report to the federal government in the next week. She highlighted key performance indicators contained in the report including timely services, natural environment, transition planning, and five additional state measurements that are critical to sustainability of the First Steps program. Many statistics were at or above 90%. She also noted that about 22,000 children are served in a calendar year and that all substantiated complaints were resolved in a timely fashion.
The Bureau of Developmental Disabilities (BDDS) report was delivered by Julie Reynolds, who was recently selected to serve as the Bureau's Policy Director. Ms. Reynolds reported that CMS is currently reviewing Indiana's waiver amendment to add Wellness Coordination. It is anticipated that CMS approval should be received within the first quarter. In order to implement the services as soon as possible after approval, BDDS is soliciting Wellness Coordination provider applications. Information about this process is available on the BDDS website. Please note, applications cannot be finalized or approved until CMS approves the waiver amendment.
Ms. Reynolds also shared plans to establish a provider portal for Advocare, the software system that is currently utilized by case managers. The portal is intended to enhance communication and provide real time consumer information. BDDS is working with INARF to test the portal before launching the tool in March. Also of note, BDDS is developing a tool in Advocare which will allow providers to view and submit state line budgets.
Ms. Norvell concluded the meeting with a discussion of recent efforts to address targeting concerns on the wait list. She shared that there are several individuals at various points in the pipeline from receiving a targeting letter to initiating services. Based on currently available data approximately 14% were unable to be contacted, 26%, were pending a fact to face meeting, 35% pending confirmation of diagnosis or collateral information, 35% are pending an initial LOCSI and 16% of families are in the process of choosing a case management company. DDRS recently provided information to case managers and providers (through INARF) regarding consumers who are coming into the system on a county-by-county basis. In addition, BDDS will evaluate the confirmation and diagnosis and collateral information gathering process. Lastly, BDDS will set expectations for local BDDS offices regarding timelines. The targeting process for the waitlist will be suspended as these issues are addressed. However, access to the Waiver will continue for those individuals who meet priority criteria for the waiver.
In conclusion, all providers were encouraged to visit the DDRS website for further information about issues impacting their business and the persons they serve. Ms. Norvell and her staff welcome interaction and collaboration with providers, and are committed to working together to build a stronger system of services and supports.