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           By Richard O. Stimson

A reprint from Connecting Point.  This is a monthly publication of The Special Gathering, Inc., written for and by the mentally challenged community.

      At the writing of this article things are changing quickly, so there may be mistakes in the facts by the time you receive this. Also, the Advocacy Center has a class-action lawsuit against the State that has put the Tiers on hold. That being said, there are a few things I would do before the Tier system is put into place:

            I would ask my support coordinator what is the annual amount of my cost plan.

            I would ask my support coordinator what tier they suspect you will go in. If they tell you they do not know, then ask them which tiers are impossible for you to qualify. Many of us will end up in Tier 3 ($35,000-a-year limit) and Tier 4 ($14,792-a-year limit).

            You then need to see if the amount you are now approved for is more or less than the tier into which you will fall

            If it is less, I would:

       Once I was officially notified of the reduction I would ask for a CHAPTER 65B-8 TERMINATION, SUSPENSION or REDUCTION OF CLIENT SERVICES.

I would follow that hearing with a Due Process Hearing. The Chapter 65B is an informal process and I think it is different from the Due Process hearing which is more of a formal process. Part of what I would be trying to do is to buy time.

      Before you receive any official notification of which tier you will be placed, I would meet with my Support Coordinator. I would try to change my support plan to request more services.  Your support coordinator should document your real needs.

       It seems that around the state, many of us have been trying to not ask for too much.  This has proven to be a mistake. It appears that the State is not basing the Tier in which we are placed on what the assessment showed our needs to be. But on what we have spent in the past.

            I know of Group Homes who were trying to be good corporate citizens and not ask for every Res Hab Hour every client could qualify for. They tried to ask for what their consumers absolutely must have. The result of this will be clients–who had not tried to milk the system– will be cut. Many of these clients would have qualified for Tier 2 ($55,000 a year limit) but now will be in Tier 3 ($35,000 a year limit). If this is your case, go ahead and request the increase in hours now.