independent living


noah's arkThe Villages at Noah’s Landing has been recommended to receive a $14 Million dollar grant in order to begin construction.  Noah’s Landing is an awesome, pedestrian-oriented lifestyle community that will feature unique apartment-styled homes with a clubhouse, daily activities, pool, nature trails, a community park, and an optional dining room. We are working on the mountain of paperwork that is needed to finalize the grant and we have been asked to provide a list of people that may be interested in moving into our community.

So we need your immediate help!  Please log on to the following link and complete the survey:http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NLInterest

This will only take 10 to 15 minutes to complete but the information is essential to keep our grant funding moving forward.  Even if you have previously completed a similar survey, please complete the survey again, this is very important.

This survey is not an application for The Villages at Noah’s Landing.  However, the people that complete the survey will be among the first to be notified when applications are being accepted. If you have any questions please call our office at (863) 815-0909

Visit our website at:  NoahsArkFlorida.org

Jack Kosik – Executive Director of Noah’s Ark

If you would like to read the recent Lakeland Ledger article on our grant, go to the following link:

http://www.theledger.com/article/20131214/NEWS/131219602/0/SEARCH

Announcement From

The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council

WEBINAR: Understanding Asset Building & Public Benefits for People with Disabilities in Florida

Visit our Website 

This series consists of two 90-minute installments and will give participants a basic understanding of many benefit programs offered by local, state and federal governments, many of which have applications and rules that change often and can be confusing. Sharon Brent, Director of Training & Technical Support at National Disability Institute will conduct the training sessions.

After participating in this series, you will have a better understanding of:

  • Public benefits and differences of programs under Social Security – SSI & SSDI.
  • The value and effect of how earned income (wages) and unearned income affect cash and medical benefits for both programs.
  • Work Incentives and which benefit program they apply to, when to use them & the value they offer when applied.
  • The difference between Medicaid & Medicare rules and the value when individuals earn income.
  • Available information from the SSA website & other important web resources for updates and continuous learning.

Who should participate in this two-part series?

  • SSI and/or SSDI beneficiaries who work or want to work
  • Parents & family members of SSI & SSDI beneficiaries who work or want to work
  • Direct service professionals who work with a SSI or SSDI beneficiary who earns or wants to earn income
  • Vocational rehabilitation managers & staff serving people with disabilities who work or want to work
  • School-to-work transition staff
  • Anyone interested in learning more about public benefits and the interaction between benefits, employment and asset building

THIS IS A TWO-PART SERIES. Participants must attend both sessions – access to the September 24th session will be given only to those who attend the September 10th session. REGISTER NOW!

This webinar is presented by:

MEETING INFORMATION

Date: September 10 & 24, 2012

Visit our Website


Time: 1:30 to 3:00 PM Eastern


Captioning will be provided during this webinar. If you use a screen reader and would like a copy of the powerpoint presentation ahead of time, please contact Katie Metz.

Visit our Website


 

Yesterday was one of those days.  For months, I’ve tried to figure out how The Special Gathering of Indian River Christmas play should be written.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our population learns more slowly than normal; yet they are adults.  It is important that the play is not only educationally appropriate but also appropriate for adults.

Regarding the play, I write it.  Therefore, I begin searching for ideas for the next year as soon as the play is written for the current year.  Sounds as though I’d be way ahead of the game by mid-summer, doesn’t it?   That could be true if I can “see” the logistics of the play.  Many years I’m a bit stumped regarding some portion of the production.  My idea this year comes from the participation of the youth department at our program in one of our programs.  Yet, how do I make it appropriate for our other program.

During my prayer time yesterday, I suddenly knew how the play should be written so that it would be age appropriate and would easily adapt to our other program that does not have youth participation.  I began working on the play about 6:30am.  By 9:30am, I was ready to send it to our staff and volunteers for their suggestions and comments.

Then I began working on other deadline projects.  I was able to complete them all.

By the end of the day, I was thrilled at the productive time I’d experienced.  As I crawled into bed, I was pretty satisfied with the accomplishments of the day.  I prayed, “Lord, thank you so much for the great day.  I feel your presence and your pleasure because of all the work I was able to do today.”

Gently, I felt the Lord’s response, “Linda, I’m with you, leading and directing you at your least productive day, also.  Sometimes I have a greater goal in your life than finishing tasks.”

Whoa!  My tired brain soared.  Of course, it is great to be able to complete tasks.  But what about the days that you work diligently and nothing is accomplished.  Is God pleased with your failed efforts?  Will the Lord honor us, even when we fall short?

Johnnie and Peter Lord

Years ago, Johnnie Lord, the wife of well-known Pastor Peter Lord, said that the Lord assured her that he was much more concerned about the intent of her heart than her actual performance.  While the Bible teaches us this truth, we forget.

How has God assured you that he loves you even when you don’t “perform up to par”?  Are you able to pass on to others the same gace and mercy?

Sitting in a clean and bright room, Jonathan meticulously moved the yellow magic marker.  He sat hunched close to the table in order to more carefully observe the imprints that spread over the picture of 4th of July fireworks.  Like most artists, Jonathan studied each line and mark as he made it.  After a few moments, Jonathan lifted his large frame to greet us with his steel eyes and expression-filled face.  Yet, he never stopped his art work.  He carefully stayed within the lines, making the colors smooth and sleek, no easy task with magic markers on plain paper.

As we walked into his room, her staff smiled while Renee Subee greeted Jonathan before she spoke to the paid personnel.  This simple gesture by Ms. Subee, the manager of The Arc in Wahiawa, Hawaii, spoke volumes to me about the quality of care and attention given to the individuals who receive services at this sheltered workshop.

Renee–you feel comfortable calling her by her first name–showed us each room where people with intellectual disabilities are trained.  Every room had a fish tank inhabited by at least one bright yellow fish.  With the intensity of a hungry feline, Debbie stared at the fish swimming until we entered her room; and then her attention was drawn to her legs.  Shy and self-conscious, Debbie only caught quick glimpses of us.

Community inclusion is more than a buzz word for this small group of folks.  Each morning, the ingredients for Meals on Wheels are delivered to the workshop.  The individuals assemble the lunches and then deliver them into the surrounding homes.  “It is such an important part of our out reach,” said Renee. “Our consumers go into the homes of the elderly and distribute the meals.  It helps everyone.  The consumers love it and so do the men and women receiving the meals.”   Explaining the purpose of their thrift shop, she said, “We keep the cost of our merchandise very low so that we can give back to our neighbors.  This community is very important to us.”

The location of the Wahiawa Arc isn’t the most desirable section of town. However, you wouldn’t know it from the pride Renee and her staff take in their location.  “We are in the perfect spot,” she bragged.

Reluctant to leave, I felt that I’d known Renee and her small community for years.  But Renee’s day isn’t over when the last consumer is loaded on a HandiVan and leaves the parking lot.  Ms. Subee is more than the Wahiawa ADH Manager, she is also the independent living coach for about 10 people who live in the upstairs apartments of the two-story building.  “I’m on call 24 hours a day.  Our residents are independent; therefore, I’m here for questions and emergencies.”

It was apparent that Renee Subee and her staff enjoy the amazing wonder of the unique people they serve.  Her humor and joy permeate every inch of the facility.  I, too, left smiling and happy that there can be such joy in working within our community, even in Paradise.

How we live

by Michelle Demeree

We live through each other.

We take moments in our lives

Then we give it to someone we love.

We give to those we love.

For then, when we have a need

They give to us.

In time, as we pray

Moments are given back to us

As we all pray in Christ.

Shelley and friends at Special Gathering

For more than20 years, I was a stay-at-home mom.  During those years, I wrote five books.  Two of them were best sellers.  Together they sold over a million copies.  I was an award-winning, free-lance writer working with several different magazines.  Additionally, I was the room mother for my children’s school classes.I baked cookies and cakes for every event at our church.  I worked at the Fall Festival and did children’s theatre.  I held a weekly Bible study for the neighborhood children.  I taught Bible classes for every age and strip.  I did and taught crafts.  I sewed.  For years, I made all my own clothes and the clothes for my daughters.  On occasion, I even cleaned my house and did the laundry.

I enjoyed every part of these various tasks, except cleaning the house and doing the laundry.  Most of my friends who were also housewives were even more creative and productive than I was.  They even loved cleaning their houses and doing the laundry.

In short, we were the illegal immigrants of the day.  We did what others were not able or did not want to do.  Only difference, we did our work for free–sensing a greater calling than mere housework.  We were molding the next generation of children.  Unfortunately, we usually garnered less respect than the illegal immigrants do today.

Understand, my mother was a working mom.  With my father, she ran the family business, Gresham’s Ice Cream Parlor.  My sister, brother and I walked to the shop after school.  We did our homework propping our books and writing paper on tables where the teenagers gathered after school to listen to the jukebox and eat snacks.  After dark, we made pallets on the chest freezers where we slept until the shop closed.

Whether working mothers or stay-at-home moms, the greatest task of every mother must be embeding Christ-like value into our children. Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Though poor, Ida Stover was determined to go to college. She scraped together enough money to attend Lane College in Lecompton, Kan., where she met fellow student David Eisenhower. She was known as a firm but gentle disciplinarian and was deeply religious. It is said she once won a prize for memorizing 1,365 Bible verses. As a pacifist, she was not in favor of her son attending West Point but decided to let him go.

She was the mother of Dwight David Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States.

Mary Litogot grew up on a farm, and met her future husband, William Ford, when he came to work on their farm. She was 12 and he was 26. They married nine years later. Mary was self-sufficient and a diligent worker. Henry (Ford) later attributed his clean factories to her belief in cleanliness. She encouraged his interest in machines early on. He later said, “I have tried to live my life as my mother would have wished. I believe I have done, as far as I could, just what she hoped for me.”

Mary Ford was Henry Ford’s mother.

Some of the women I have the most respect for are those courageous mothers whose children are born with intellectual disabilities.  At the birth of their children, the dreams and aspirations they have nurtured all their lives dies.  But their hope does not die.  Resilient and brave, they work and teach.  Step by minute step, they struggle and minister to the little ones God has placed in their homes and hearts. Yes, the moms who harbor future presidents and great inventors are wonderful.  However,  it is the mothers who daily work to bring their little ones with disabilities into their fullest potential that I honor and respect the most.

As a mother, what was your greatest accomplishment?  What about your mother?  How did she inspire you?

Quoted information from Mothers: 100 Mothers of the Famous and Infamous, edited by Richard, Ehrlich, Paddington Press, Ltd.

This information was obtained from Aaron Nangle’ newsletter.  To receive Nangle’s newsletter, visit his website at waiverinfo@aol.com

Emergency Rule Lifted By Rick Scott

Details About How/When Rates Are Restored

Provider Update

The APD emergency rate reduction to provider rates will end at midnight, April 15. Provider rates will return to their March 2011 levels effective Saturday, April 16.

Rates for services provided between April 1 and April 15 will remain at the reduced rate.

To keep from issuing over 150,000 new service authorizations, APD is changing current service authorizations (April 1 – June 30). These service authorizations will have an approved amount based on the reduced rate for services provided between April 1 through April 15 and the old (higher) rate from April 16 through the service authorization end date.

Changed service plans will be available in ABC by close of business Monday, April 18.

Service authorization requests will be submitted to FMMIS the evening of April 18. Service authorizations are anticipated to be available Tuesday, April 19.

Billing is suspended until system changes are complete. APD anticipates that service authorizations will be available to Waiver Support Coordinators on Tuesday, April 19.  WSC must review and distribute these service authorizations. Once a provider has received a service authorization, they may begin billing for April services.

If you have any questions or problems with your service authorization, Area Office staff can answer questions and make corrections to service plans.

Rates

The rate shown on the service authorization will be the old (higher) rate. The approved amount on the service authorization may not be equal to the old rate shown on the service authorization multiplied by the number of units. The service authorization for April may show an amount slightly less than the original rate multiplied by the number of units because of the reduced rate used from April 1 through April 15.

When billing for April, please remember to reduce the amount billed for services provided before April 16.   

Because of the rate change, services (other than monthly) should be billed daily by date in April. Please do not “roll-up” service rates used after April 15 with services provided during the April 1 through April 15 period.

Service Scenarios

The sections below describe how reduced rate service authorizations will be handled to increase the rates.

Service Plans with Approved Amount <= $1.00 or Rate = $0.00 : 

 Service Plans with Approved Amount <= $1.00 or Rate = $0.00 will not be updated by this process.

 Monthly Services (One unit per month billed)

The services below will be handled as follows:

For April,    

The reduced rate will be multiplied by 50% (.5).              

The old rate will be multiplied by 50% (.5).

These two amounts will be added together to get the blended amount for April

Each remaining month (May and June) will be billed at the old rate ($100.00)

New Service Authorization Amount (April-June) 92.50 + 100 + 100 = $292.50

 Example:

Reduced rate = $85, Old rate = $100, 4/1/2011-6/30/2011

For April,

$85 x .5 = $42.50

$100 x .5 = $50

$42.50 + $50 = $92.50 (blended amount for April)

92.50 + 100 + 100 = $292.50 New Service Authorization Amount (April-June)

Monthly Services

Res Hab Basic – Standard

Res Hab Ext 1 – Behavior Focus

Res Hab Ext 1 – Standard

Res Hab Ext 2 – Behavior Focus

Res Hab Ext 2 – Standard

Res Hab Min – Behavior Focus

Res Hab Min – Standard

Res Hab Mod – Behavior Focus

Res Hab Mod – Standard

Support Coordination – Limited

Support Coordination – Full

Support Coordination – Transitional

Support Coordination CDC+ – Limited

Support Coordination CDC+ – Full

 Unit Based Services

The services below will be handled as follows

Calculate number of days between begin date and 4/15/2011 = Reduced rate days (DaysReduced)

Calculate the number of days between 4/16/2011 and service authorization end date = remaining days (DaysRemain)

DaysReduced + DaysRemain = DaysSA

Approved amount / reduced rate = number of units (Units)

Units / DaysSA = units per day (UnitsDay)

UnitsDay * DaysReduced * reduced rate = 4/1/2011-4/15/2011 amount (ReducedAmt)

UnitsDay * DaysRemain * old rate = 4/16/2011-end of service authorization amount (RemainingAmount)

ReducedAmt + RemainingAmount = New Service Authorization Amount

 Example:

Reduced rate = $85, Old rate = $100, Period 4/1/2011-6/30/2011, Amount $8500

4/1/2011 – 4/15/2011 = 15 (DaysReduced)

4/16/2011 – 6/30/2011 = 76 (DaysRemain)

15 + 76 = 91 (DaysSA)

$8500 / $85 = 100 (Units)

100/91 = 1.0989 (UnitsDay)

1.0989 * 15 * $85 = $1401.0975 (ReducedAmt)

1.0989 * 76 * $100 = $8351.64 (RemainingAmount)

$1401.0975 + $8351.64 = $9752.7375 (New Service Authorization Amount)

Unit Based Services

In – Home Supports (Live-In Staff)

Res Hab Basic – Standard – Daily

Res Hab Ext 1 – Standard – Daily

Res Hab Ext 2 – Standard – Daily

Res Hab Min – Standard – Daily

Res Hab Mod – Standard – Daily

Residential Habilitation – (Live In Staff) – Daily

Respite Care – Day

Adult Day Training – Facility Based

Adult Day Training – Off Site

Behavior Analysis Level 1

Behavior Analysis Level 2

Behavior Analysis Level 3

Behavior Assistant Services

Companion

Dietitian Services

In – Home Supports (Awake Staff)

Occupational Therapy

Personal Care Assistance

Physical Therapy

Private Duty Nursing – LPN

Private Duty Nursing – RN

Residential Habilitation – (Quarter Hour)

Residential Nursing Services – LPN

Residential Nursing Services – RN

Respiratory Therapy

Respite Care – Quarter Hour

Skilled Nursing – LPN

Skilled Nursing – RN

Specialized Mental Health – Therapy

Speech Therapy

Supported Employment   Group

Supported Employment – Individual Model

Supported Living Coaching

Services Reduced by a flat 15 percent

The services below will be handled as follows

Calculate number of days between begin date and 4/15/2011 = Reduced rate days (DaysReduced)

Calculate the number of days between 4/16/2011 and service authorization end date = remaining days (DaysRemain)

DaysReduced + DaysRemain = DaysSA

Approved amount / reduced rate = number of units (Units)

Units / DaysSA = units per day (UnitsDay)

Reduced rate / .85 = old rate

UnitsDay * DaysReduced * reduced rate = amount prior to 4/16/2011 (amount 1)

UnitsDay * DaysRemain * old rate = amount after 4/15/2011 (amount 2)

Amount 1 + amount 2 = New Service Authorization Amount

 Example:

Reduced rate = $85, Period 4/1/2011-6/30/2011, Amount $8500

4/1/2011 – 4/15/2011 = 15 (DaysReduced)

4/16/2011 – 6/30/2011 = 76 (DaysRemain)

15 + 76 = 91 (DaysSA)

$8500 / $85 = 100 (Units)

100/91 = 1.0989 (UnitsDay)

$85 / .85 = 100 (old rate)

1.0989 * 15 * $85 = $1401.0975 (ReducedAmt)

1.0989 * 76 * $100 = $8351.64 (RemainingAmount)

$1401.0975 + $8351.64 = $9752.7375 (New Service Authorization Amount)

 Services Reduced by a flat 15 percent

CONSUMABLE MEDICAL SUPPLIES

IN HOME SUPPORTS MONTHLY – S.L.WAIVER

Personal Emergency Response – Service

Res Hab Basic – Behavior Focus

Residential Habilitation – (Day) Intensive Behavior in a Licensed Facility

Special Medical Home Care

Transportation – Mile

Transportation – Month

Transportation – Trip

One time or infrequent services

The services below will be handled as follows:

A list of these service authorizations is being provided to the Area Offices. Changes for these services will be handled manually by the Area Offices

Services

Adult Dental Services

Behavioral Analysis Services Assessment

Durable Medical Equipment

Environmental Accessibility Adaptations

Home Accessibility Assessment

Occupational Therapy Assessment

Personal Emergency Response – Installation

Physical Therapy – Assessment

Respiratory Therapy Assessment

Specialized Mental Health – Assessment

Speech Therapy – Assessment

Special Case for Res Hab Behavior Focus

The services listed below have the same procedure code of either “T2020U6” or “T2023U6” in the Rate table. However Res Hab Basic does not have any given rates as this service comes under services with negotiated rates. The business rule being applied is:

a) Take the pre-April 1 ABC service plan rate (old) and compare it with all the rates available in the old rate table.

 b) If a perfect rate match is found for the procedure code and rate, the matched rate will be used in the current service plan. Otherwise the ABC old service plan rate will be used in the current service plan.

Services

Res Hab Basic – Behavior Focus

Res Hab Min – Behavior Focus

Res Hab Mod – Behavior Focus

Res Hab Ext 2 – Behavior Focus

Res Hab Ext 1 – Behavior Focus – Daily

Res Hab Ext 2 – Behavior Focus – Daily

Res Hab Min – Behavior Focus – Daily

Res Hab Mod – Behavior Focus – Daily

 Problems That Might Occur

One time or infrequent services are being handled manually

Units may not be used on a daily basis so the calculated amount is not correct

Source:  http://apdcares.org/news/news/2011/new-rule.htm

  ______________________________________________________

Message From Aaron Nangle

The aim of win-win negotiation is to find a solution that is acceptable to both parties, and leaves both parties feeling that they’ve won, in some way, after the event.  I don’t believe that has happened  for either party, and that worries me.  Providers and families are very, very thankful to The Governor and to the Legislators for restoring rates, yet they are also  fully aware that there is not enough funding to serve everyone and future cuts are likely. The Governor has made it very clear that APD must stay within its budget, and he has an obligation to tax payers to balance the Florida budget.  

There are about 50,000 people who need services from The Agency For Persons With Disabilities- just over 30,000 are on the waiver and 19,000 on the waiting list.   Historically, the budget has not been enough to provide services for the 30,000 on the waiver.  Furthermore, many people have been waiting for services for five years or more. 

In this crisis, we have come together and worked towards solutions.  We need to continue to do so.  The absolute worst thing we can do is to panic and start blaming each other.  Let’s face it, the money wasn’t wasted on private jets for our workers or exotic retreats, it was spent on medically necessary services. 

In order to balance the APD budget and also serve everyone on the waiting list, people would need to cut their service utilization nearly in half.  In most cases that is an impossible request.  We can not tell people they can only live in their group homes for 182 days per year.  From this experience we have also learned that provider rates can not be cut by 30-40 percent.  The law requires that agencies pay their employees at least minimum wage, and minimum wage is usually not enough to keep dependable, quality, caring providers. 

The second rule of successful negotiation is to understand the wants and needs of the other party.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA7nCI1Q8Kg

(video of meeting in the Governor’s office)

We have a lot of work to do.

__________________________________________

Ever Care Adult Care Services LLC,

Is Ready To Help

  We have beds available immediately and are prepared to help anyone in need during these difficult times. Behavior focused adult male, Standard female and male beds are available. Live near the beach, enjoy great daily activities. Contact – Mary Jo, 727-449-7045 or Email: mhscan@aol.com 

 See our website at http://evercareadultservices.com/

______________________________________
 

Call to Advertise your company & be listed on our websites.
We want people to have a true choice.

SupportCoordinators.Com  –  WaiverProvider.Com

FloridaGroupHome.Com  –  FloridaUnites.com

FloridaAutism.org  –  FloridaGuardianship.com

Here is a copy of the memo sent to service providers in Florida regarding three month 15 percent cuts:

APD

agency for  persons with disabilities

State of Florida 

MEMO TO ALL PROVIDERS OF DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

MEDICAID WAIVER SERVICES

March 31, 2011

 

TO:      All APD Providers  

FROM: Bryan Vaughan, ActingDirector

            Agency for Persons with Disabilities

RE: Changes to Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver Service Rates

 The Agency has projected a budget deficit of more than $169 million dollars for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Pursuant to the APD and AHCA’s authority in sections 393.0661(7) and (8), Florida Statutes, all provider rates in Rules 59G-13.081, 59G-13.082 and 59G-13.084 for Medicaid Waiver Services provided through the Developmental Disabilities Home and Community Based Waivers will be reduced by 15% for services provided between April 1, 2011, and June 30, 2011. In addition, solo/agency differentials will be eliminated. After June 30, 2011, these rate reductions may be revised pursuant to legislative action or agency rule.

These rates may be found on the Agency’s website and will be filed in an emergency rule. If you have a negotiated rate for intensive behavioral residential habilitation, transportation, or special medical home care services, your local area administrator will contact you in the near future with an addendum to your current waiver services agreement. 

These rate adjustments will be reflected in each client’s authorization for services. The rate adjustments do not reduce, modify, or terminate any currently authorized waiver services. APD will provide new service authorizations to all providers within 5 days of this memo. Until such time, this memo will serve as your authorization.

In these difficult economic times, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities appreciates your cooperation and thanks you for your service and dedication to individuals with developmental disabilities.

http://apdcares.org

Linda Howard’s note:  This is from an email I received this morning.  The first part of the entry contains comments  from Richard Stimson regarding the article.  I quoted the entire article but I also referenced it.  Go to the original article  to input your comments with the Miami Herald.

You know, it is like a horror movie, every time you think things have gotten as bad as they can, it gets worst.  This is the Miami Herald and they sound like they are supporting Governor Scott.

First statement in RED by Kingsley Ross – Is this saying agencies will stop providing services?  I got an email from another FARF person that said something similar.  It basically said at these rates services could not be provided in a safe way.

First statement in GREEN by Brian Burgess – Is this saying that these cuts are this bad because of what happen in the past?  I think so.  Also from reading the article it appears they blame all of the appeals too (see second part in GREEN).  I also find the word use of “neediest” interesting.  I do not think they are talking financially because all waiver clients are on Medicaid.  I think they are talking about a new way to prioritize who gets services.  What would that look like?  Folks in Group Homes?  What happens to those in supportive living?

First statement in PURPLE by Miami Herald – Makes it sound like Scott had no other choice.  He had to do this.  I would take this to mean that the paper thinks Scott is within his authority to do this as an Emergency Rule!

Linda Howard note:  This is an article is from the Miami Herald.  Here is the web address.  Go there to input your comments regarding this latest action:

 http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/30/2142265_gov-scott-to-call-for-deep-cuts.html#storylink=addthis

AGENCY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Gov. Scott to call for deep cuts at agency for disabled

A $170 million deficit in the agency that serves the most needy in Florida has left Gov. Rick Scott with a tough call.

By Marc Caputo

TALLAHASSEE — Due to a shockingly large deficit, Gov. Rick Scott is planning to invoke his emergency powers and make deep cuts to the rates charged by group homes and case workers who help the developmentally disabled.

Scott could announce a 15 percent rate cut as early as Thursday to close the $170 million budget gap in the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, according to lawmakers who were briefed Wednesday.

The deficit — which exceeds the agency’s spending authority by nearly 20 percent — is partly the legacy of lawsuits, poor planning by the Legislature and a nearly $20 million veto by Scott’s predecessor, Charlie Crist, who starved the program of savings when he refused to trim provider rates last summer.

SYSTEM SHUTDOWN

Those who provide services to the nearly 30,000 Floridians with cerebral palsy, autism and Down Syndrome said they aren’t concerned with the origin of the deficit as much as the effect of deep rate cuts.

“This would be a catastrophe,” said Kingsley Ross, an advocate and lobbyist for Sunrise Community, a Miami-based group home operator.

For the past three years, Ross said, providers have shouldered rate cuts. They’re now operating on the thinnest of margins.

“The system can’t take this,” Ross said. “Eventually, we will have to cut jobs and reduce services.”

Scott’s spokesman, Brian Burgess, said the governor doesn’t want to harm the developmentally disabled. However, he said the state has put off tough choices for too long and the bill is due.

Burgess said paring the budget now will put the state in a better position to pay future expenses on the neediest. “Yes it’s painful,” Burgess said. “But we’re trying to alleviate the pain long term.”

Florida has a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget, but federally created Medicaid-related entitlement programs can go into deficit from time to time if the number of recipients increases or costs for needed services rise.

The Legislature estimated that next year the entire state budget will have a $3.75 billion shortfall. So lawmakers are trimming programs.

Troubled by the deficit in the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Scott ordered an inquiry. The results of the investigation are scheduled to be released Thursday.

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

The Legislature tried to cut the program for the developmentally disabled last year, but Gov. Crist refused. He vetoed a 2.5 percent provider rate reduction.

Meantime, lawmakers didn’t budget enough money for the program to account for the fact that thousands of recipients had sued to block a system of service reductions and cuts to the program.

When times were flush five years ago, legislators expanded the rolls of the Medicaid program by about 5,000 — a move that brought cheers from advocates for the disabled. They had fretted that about 15,000 developmentally-disabled people were on a waiting list but unable to receive services.

But the waiting list has only grown. Medical costs have increased. But state tax collections plummeted and then flat-lined.

Add all those factors together, and the deficit in the $850 million program for the developmentally disabled is about $170 million, according to the Florida House’s proposed budget. The budget proposes to fix this year’s deficit by shifting money from special accounts. But the Senate offers no such solution, leaving Gov. Scott few choices. Neither he nor his fellow Republicans want to raise taxes to fill the deficit.

Scott’s proposal to reduce rates by 15 percent should save about $34 million. The rest of the deficit would be plugged by shifting agency money and reducing the rates of South Florida providers who get slightly higher reimbursements.

Sen. Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who chairs the Senate’s health budget committee, and Rep. Matt Hudson, chairman of the House health budget committee, said they were briefed on the plan and support Scott.

 To record your input with the Miami Herald, please go to:  http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/30/2142265_gov-scott-to-call-for-deep-cuts.html#storylink=addthis

Much Ado about Nothing

Genesis 2:7 and 8

Central Theme:  God‘s greatest prize was made from dirt.

Introduction–Okay here we go again with grandbaby stories.  I went to visit my granddaugter who is 18 months old now.  She can say, “Grandmother and cracker.”  She knows what she wants and how to get it with a smile and a kiss.  Can you imagine that this little baby is a growing, thriving bundle of dirt.  Show a bag of dirt.  Have a member read Genesis 2:7 and 8.

       I.     God took the most common thing on earth, dirt, and fashioned his most prize possession, people. 

          A. When we look at the great achievements of the universe, they have all been accomplished by some bundle of dirt. 

          B. The greatest acts of love, compassion and tenderness, all come from some salt-water moistened lump of dirt.

          C. I’ve brought a picture of a great work of art, skillfully and brilliantly fashioned by dirt hands.           

      II.     We should understand our origins to fully understand ourselves.

              A. I‘m not talking about our family background. 

              1.  We need to understand that God made us from dirt.

              2.  Even science agrees with the fact that we are made from dirt.

              3.  What science cannot understand is God’s love for me as he fashioned Adam and Eve into humanity

              4.  Abstract thought cannot grasp a Creator God who loved us enough to let us have freewill that would turn and curse and revile our Creator.

              5.  Thinking people cannot grasp this God who made a way for me to be redeemed by the shed blood of his Son.

          B. God loved the dirt he had fashioned so much that He knew that only if he became dirt himself could he bring these dirty creature to himself.

              1.  He gave us everything to become like us–dirt.

Conclusion–I am dirt but because of Jesus, I am clean dirt.

Today, I was reminded by Os Hillman the truth and importance  of Exodus 16:4.  “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will cause food to fall like rain from the sky for all of you.  Every day the people must go out and gather what they need for that day.  I want to see if the people will do what I teach them'” (New Century Version).

When God takes us into the wilderness, we find that we must depend totally on the Lord.  Imagine, no way to purchase steak or after-school snacks.  No grocery stores, 7-11 stores.  No farms, plowing or harvest.  No orange groves.  No Macy’s to purchase a new Christmas sweater or shoe stores to satisfy our inherited shoe genes. 

The wilderness always means that we are dependent on the Lord, totally and completely. 

The reason I was impressed by this verse, however, wasn’t because of my dependence–though it is vital for my spiritual growth.  It is because of the mentally challenged community.  Often when I speak and teach about depending on the Lord, I see from our members’ smiles and other expressions of understanding that this is a principle they understand and accept.  Even our lower functioning members comprehend this dogma. 

The mentally challenged community are people who are totally dependent on others.  There are very few things that they can do completely on their own.  Even when they are gifted in one area, like Michael, our members may be captured by emotions and stresses they cannot understand, much less explain to others. 

Over the years, I’ve come to know and love Michael because of his sweet, giving spirit.  I’ve also come to appreciate and depend on his talents and giftings.  Nevertheless, there are times that Michael slips into an agonizing funk.  Trying to probe and examine him, only makes his pain more extreme.  As talented as Michael is, he is not completely verbal.  Perhaps he does not even know what brings on his pain.  Everyone who knows him has learned to leave him alone and to allow him to work out his emotional crisis.  Only God can deliver him from his hurts and suffering and it takes time.

Frank, one of my closest friends, has an off-the-charts IQ.  Interestingly, he suffers from the same type of funk.  Even though he is extremely verbal, he is not able to explain why or how these awful fits of gloom come on him.  Like Michael, only God can release him from these times of hurtful suffering. 

This morning I was reminded of Michael and so many other members who must totally depend on the Lord.  Simple tasks, like buying groceries, are overwhelming ordeals without the help of another person.  Daily, practical living leaves them grasping for someone else’s assistance.  Their times of acute pain, however, are days that we must all allow God to do His supernatural work releasing them from their hurts and anxiety. 

“Isn’t there anything I can do to help Michael?”  I asked his caregiver, yesterday over lunch. 

“Pray.  You know our members all respond to prayer” was her wise answer.

All of us wander through the wilderness.  All of us share times of perplexing uncertainty when we must totally depend on the Lord.  Perhaps we can learn from our members during these anxious times of distress.  They are veterans of this lonely, foreboding place.  They understand God’s leading and grace in ways I only wish I could comprehend.

This is an article from The Florida Transit Advocate, on-line newsletter published by the Florida Public Transit Association.

An important election is coming up in November.  Our Governor, a U.S. Senate seat, all of Florida’s 27 U.S. House Seats, most of our state Legislature, and a plethora of local positions are being put to the voters. Citizens in Hillsborough and Polk Counties will be asked to vote on ballot initiatives (see stories at the bottom left of this page).wes pic

Florida transit is at a crossroads. It’s up to voters like us to determine whether Florida is at a Renaissance or whether transit will slide backwards with budget cuts. Never before have so many Floridians, on both sides of the aisle, come to realize the need for strong, functioning transit systems in our urban areas. As someone who represents the interests of public transit in our Legislature every year, I can vouch that your voice will be heard in the halls of Tallahassee. I urge each of you to make sure that your positions on transit are made clear at the ballot box. I also invite you to urge your friends to subscribe to this newsletter, the larger our base, the more we will be heard.

Wes Watson,  Executive Director, 
Florida Public Transportation Association

I was asked to write a eulogy for a dear and close friend who died last week.  I wanted to share with you a portion of it.  She worked for years as a full-time volunteer in the school system with all children.  She did stage productions, taking great joy to never exclude children with disabilities.  To her, all children had a special need for an abundance of love.

While we don’t ever admit it, there is something wonderful about death, that final passage of life. Because people–the survivror–are forced to stop. We stop to remember. We brace our hoe under their armpit and take off their hats. Slowly, we wipe our brows and listen and embrace the rambling noise of memories. And for a brief moment in time, we allow ourselves to rejoice in the past. We are lost something in the 70’s, our sense of tradition. But tradition is more than a processional or which side of the lectern the piano should be placed. Tradition is embodied in the story–the story of our faith. Even more, Christian tradition is embodied in the story of the Faithful.

Jesus said at the last supper, “Do this to remember me.” Memory is an essential part of the Judeo-Christian heritage. The Passover is a ritual of remembering. The Jewish people were taught to remember God’s miraculous salvation interruptions that occur in our everyday lives. But somehow we refuse to allow time to remember. Our lives are wrapped tightly in the present and future. Even our older generations, don’t take the time to remember…or we don’t take the time to listen.

But death abruptly unwraps the cocoons of our present and our future and we come to a screeching halt as the noise of the past slaps us in the face. The only thing John’s family, friends and I have left are our memories of him.

Several times a week, I sit in pastor’s meetings in at least three counties.  The closer the friendships, the more frankly the pastors speak about their concerns and problems.  During some sessions, I leave thanking God that I am working with people who have disabilities.  The members of Special Gathering are men and women with obvious flaws but hearts that desire to follow the Lord.

 Author Jan Karon uses a wonderful term to describe the fictitious church in one of her books–“hungry and imperfect.”  One of the main characters says that the reason that she loves the new church is because it is filled with people who are “hungry and imperfect.”  I’ve read no better description than this to describe the members of Special Gathering.

The imperfections are obvious.  No mere crooked noses or small feet here.  Their reasoning and intellectual abilities are reduced.  Too often, their bodies have suffered some type of developmental difficulties, leaving them physically impaired. 

Yet, these are people who are hungry.  They sit listening intently.  Of course, Mike holds the hand of his girlfriend during the sermon; but he rarely blinks throughout the entire discourse.  He is intent to learn more about his Savior.  With a bit of encouragement, John asks excellent questions.  He struggles to get the correct answer to questions asked  during our Bible study.  Windy, Mary and Laura all desire to know God in a more perfect way. 

Paraphrasing an unknown author, God comes into the darkest most imperfect rooms of our hearts and there He seeks to set up his home.  Cleansing, perfecting and loving us into his perfection and wholeness.  Worshipping with folks who are “hungry and imperfect” I’ve found there is no better place where we,  his children, can find a resting, growing place?

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