Division of Developmental Disabilities & Rehabilitative Services (DDRS) Director Nicole Norvell addressed the INARF membership for the second time since her appointment, introducing two new Division leaders: Chief of Staff Dawn Downer and John Hill, Director of Policy, Planning and Program Development.
Director Norvell outlined transition priorities for her first few months in office, emphasizing the division's focus on functioning as one entity instead of separate bureaus. She and her staff are in the process of reviewing processes and procedures with an eye on efficiency and serving the DDRS consumer and provider customer base.
Ms. Norvell noted that her administration will revisit previous policies, including group home conversion and the buying down of home mortgages. While current group home conversion actions are in place, the Division is reviewing previous actions to ensure that the conversion process is thoughtful and deliberate. Feedback from provider agencies is welcome.
Related to group home conversion, DDRS is working on implementation of key components of the Balancing Incentive Program. In particular, the Division is working on establishing a Single Point of Entry/No Wrong Door for long term services and supports. While largely virtual, the concept would ensure better communication between Area Agencies on Aging, local Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services (BDDS) offices, and community mental health centers. A pilot project is currently underway to link all three agencies to provide comprehensive information regarding services and benefits for eligible clients.
In closing, Ms. Norvell enthusiastically noted agency success with employment initiatives, and encouraged providers to keep DDRS informed about innovative services and consumer success stories. She emphasized the need for DDRS and providers to build trust and rapport through the transition process, and urged providers to contact her or her staff with any questions or concerns. For additional information on DDRS initiatives please visit the DDRS website.
Building on Ms. Norvell's message of progress, INARF President Kim Opsahl provided an overview of the Association's 2013 legislative agenda, noting that the Governmental Affairs Committee and INARF lobbying team engaged in a deliberate and strategic approach to managing pressing industry issues during this year's legislative session.
With 40 new legislators in the House alone, the Association engaged in targeted outreach to key policymakers, making good use of relationships built through the 100 Days Campaign. This hard work paid off when INARF and industry partners successfully advocated on behalf of study and review of managed care for persons with developmental disabilities versus swift implementation as initially proposed.
This summer, the Innovation & Systems Change Committee will continue researching managed care models and their impact upon services and supports provided to persons with disabilities. They will work closely with the Governmental Affairs Committee to coordinate research and strategic outreach around this issue.
While the 2013 session has adjourned, the Governmental Affairs Committee and INARF lobbyists will continue their work this summer as the Commission on Developmental Disabilities prepares to study a variety of issues, including Medicaid waiver rates this fall. The Committee will author a position statement on this critical issue and anticipates submitting comments to the Commission.
INARF remains focused on developing the relationships necessary to represent our members and advocate on behalf of the provider community. We welcome your partnership as we work in the interim to ensure that the voice of providers is well represented both during and after session.