On November 7, INARF and The Arc of Indiana came together for the Annual Joint Legislative & Critical Issues Forum and INARF's Seventh Annual Legislative Awards Luncheon. The day's events took place at the Crane Bay Event Center in downtown Indianapolis.
The day began with the Legislative & Critical Issues Forum, featuring remarks from FSSA Secretary Debra Minott, who outlined the agency's strategic vision, which places emphasis on customer service for both consumer and provider stakeholders. Starting from the top down, the Secretary is dedicated to revitalizing the corporate culture of FSSA, including working with consumers and providers as partners and remaining open to ideas, innovation and the lessening of bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake. Following the Governor's lead, Secretary Minott cited popular management book "From Good to Great" by Jim Collins, and challenged FSSA and its stakeholders to create a vibrant, productive, customer-centered culture.
Diane McComb, State Liaison for ANCOR, provided a thorough overview of federal issues impacting the provider community and persons with disabilities. She began her remarks by reviewing the current state of services for individuals with disabilities, noting that the present model of funding appears unsustainable. As support for this contention, Ms. McComb observed that continued economic growth at 8.3% will not restore losses from the recession until Fiscal Year 2019, and states are unable to make up the difference in funding. Additionally, she noted that the demand for services continues to grow, as the workforce decreases. Finally, she highlighted that publicly funded supports reach just over 25% of persons developmental disabilities, leaving the vast majority relying on family caregivers and other non-paid supports.
Within the context of this environment, Ms. McComb discussed four major systems shifts that will only add to the challenges. First, she discussed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), noting that ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility does not present business expansion opportunities for I/DD providers as it does for other Medicaid providers. However, expansion could help I/DD providers avoid increased costs related to the employer mandate, as many Direct Support Professionals would likely qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria. It is important to note this is only true in states which expand coverage, and at this time, Indiana is not one of those states.
Second, Ms. McComb addressed changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act companionship exemption. This change which makes most companionship workers eligible for overtime pay will impact relatively few INARF members. However, it is could have implications for those who provide Structured Family Caregiving, as the FLSA definition of employee may include those who are considered Independent Contractors by the IRS.
Third, Ms. McComb detailed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' efforts to publish rules defining home and community-based services. The draft rule defines the characteristics of home and community based. Depending on a state and/or regional CMS authorities interpretation, the rule could significantly impact both day and residential services.
Lastly, Ms. McComb closed with a discussion of the re-authorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Recently passed by the Senate HELP Committee, the re-authorization would focus efforts on transition related services as a means to encourage community based employment options. These efforts targeted at students and youth with disabilities under age 24 promote the use of pre-employment transition services through Vocational Rehabilitation; restrict access to work in facility-based employment settings unless certain criteria are met; develop appropriate coordination with local workforce development boards; and to utilize special minimum wage provisions only when all Section 14(c) requirements are met and career counseling and Vocational Rehabilitation services have been pursued.
The program then shifted to the 7th Annual INARF Legislative Awards Luncheon, where INARF PAC Board Chair Patrick Cockrum recognized PAC contributors and welcomed special guests Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Representative Ed Clere (R-New Albany).
Secretary Lawson, a previous winner of both INARF's Legislator of the Year Award and the INARF Career Achievement Award, recognized INARF's work to advance services and supports for persons with disabilities. Secretary Lawson thanked INARF for its partnership throughout her years as a legislator, Developmental Disability Commission member, and, now, as a member of the executive branch.
Following Secretary Lawson's remarks, Representative Ed Clere (R-New Albany) was recognized with INARF's 2013 Legislator of the Year Award. Bettye Dunham of Rauch, Inc. presented the award, commenting on Rep. Clere's dedication and support for those we serve. In accepting the award, Rep. Clere shared his view on the 2013 legislative session, noting that foremost on the minds of policymakers was HJR-6, the so-called Marriage Amendment, which may impede the progress of other legislation. He encouraged INARF members to continue working proactively with House and Senate members to bring awareness to issues impacting providers and persons with disabilities.
The event concluded with a panel discussion featuring special guest Kim Dodson of The Arc of Indiana engaging in political discussion with Kelli Waggoner and Glenna Shelby, INARF's lobbying team.