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:


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


APD Regional Directors and Strategic Planning

On May 8 and 9, the six new regional directors for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) met in Tallahassee to begin planning for the restructuring of the APD offices throughout the state.

APD Director Mike Hansen kicked off the meeting. Several program areas presented updates to the regional directors to ensure that they were aware of the latest information.

The new APD regional directors are:

  • Lynne Daw for the Northwest Region
  • Gayle Granger for the Northeast Region
  • Merari Perez for the Central Region
  • Geri Williams for the Suncoast Region
  • Gerry Driscoll for the Southeast Region
  • Evelyn Alvarez for the Southern Region

Following the regional planning meeting, the regional directors joined the rest of the agency for an APD Strategic Plan webinar. Each team leader presented an update on the activities that have occurred as part of the team’s strategic objective.




Webinar for CDC+ Personal Care Services Transition

This transition will affect CDC+ consumers under the age of 21 who wish to obtain PCA service via Medicaid State Plan AND self-direct the approved PCA funds via their CDC+ monthly budget. Consultants who serve these consumers are encouraged to attend one of the scheduled Webinars.

For more information call your local APD area office or contact Alexandra Weimorts CDC+ Director

Consumer Directed Care Plus Services

Agency for Persons with Disabilities

Phone: 850/414-6609 Fax: 850/414-7761

Blackberry: 850/274-1230

Areas 9 & 10
June 14, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm

Area 11
July 10, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm
July 19, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm

Areas 1 & 2
August 7, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm
August 16, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm

Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm

Areas 4, 12 & 13
September 4, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm
September 13, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm

Areas 8 & 23
October 2, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm
October 11, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm

Areas 3, 7, 14 & 15
November 8, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm
November 13, 2012
Representative Training 10am – 12pm
Consultant Training 1pm – 3pm


This is part of the newsletter MedWaiver sent by Aaron Nangle. Go to their website to voice your opinion.

APD Communications Wants Your Opinion

The Communications Office of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities wants to ensure that it is meeting the communication needs of all its stakeholders which include employees, customers, and providers.

The Communications Office is responsible for all agency media relations, program marketing, brochures, posters, the Champion newsletter, websites, displays, constituent correspondence, agency customer service inquiries, Disability Employment Awareness Month activities, presentations, and other related activities.

Let APD know what you think!

Please spend two minutes completing this online survey ( to help APD improve it’s communication with you.

When faced with a problem and needing to confront a person in authority, here are some excellent tips for finding solutions:

1.    Be positive

2.    Be clear and stay focused

3.    Talk to the person who can make the difference

4.    Ask what happened and why

5.    Think solutions, not just complaints

6.      Keep within your own experience of the problem

7.      Write down beforehand what you want to say.  Include the list of issues and questions you want answered, in case you forget in the meeting.

8.      Focus on a way forward

This information was supplied by

The Family Cafe

1332 N. Duval St.
Tallahassee, FL 32303
United States

Riding the bus is as much a part of the culture of the mentally challenged community, as struggling to read.  In our Central Florida county, parents sometimes complain about the long bus trips that our population must take each day to get to and from work.  Often, parents will opt to transport their children to doctor’s appointments and Rec Department events, rather than teaching them the intricate maneuvering required to learn the route schedules.  The professional community has never caught the vision of teaching people who are mentally challenged how to figure out the schedules.  Transporting them in private vehicles seems easier. 

Yet, I seldom hear the same complaint from Special Gathering members and my other friends.  When Diana developed the skills needed to ride the bus to work and to her appointments after her mother died, she gained a new sense of independence.  She and her close friend, Mimi, often ride the bus together to go to lunch and to the shopping center.

Because of the complexity of the geography of the county, bus routes can be complicated and hard to understand.  Therefore, there are not as many bus people who live in our county, except a few scattered homeless individuals.  Bus people are folks who ride the bus everyday for fun and entertainment.  

A good friend of mine has a daughter who is in her mid-thirties.  She is mentally challenged and bipolar.  She lives in South Florida where there are many bus routes.

This young woman boards the bus early everyday and rides all day long.  She gave up employment years ago because she doesn’t like the tedium of the day programs.  The erratic behavior caused by her bipolar symptoms, makes it hard for her to understand the logic required to be able to submit to authority.  For that reason, she hasn’t succeeded in working in the community.  Therefore, she finds that riding the bus everyday, fills her time in a meaningful way.

Perhaps one of the best things the professional community could do within our cloistered, sub-culture is bus training.  Teaching individuals who are developmentally disabled to ride the bus to doctor’s appointments and to the shopping mall should be an intricate part of the skill sets needed for survival. 

Part of my desire is to get a grant that can be used to teach people how to ride the bus in our county.  It will mean educating parents and professionals first but it would be worth the effort.   As the cost of gas continues to climb, riding the bus may become a necessary skill set that we cannot afford to be without.  

Does anyone know of a grant that teaches people to access public transportation? 


Space Coast Center for Independent Living has partnered with Legal Advocacy Center of Central Florida, Inc.

The mission of Legal Advocacy Center of Central Florida, Inc. (LACCF) is to enforce the legal rights of the disabled community, eligible low-income and elderly persons by providing advice and representation in impact litigation matters, advocating for clients’ legal rights and conducting community education.

The service will be free of charge for individuals that meet SCCIL’s disability requirements. Individuals that are not disabled may still receive free services if income qualified.

Services to be provided:

Consumer RightsHousing RightsImmigrationHousing Discrimination,

Disability RightsPublic BenefitsIndividual Rights and Educational Rights.

Please call 321-633-6011 to inquire about eligibility and to schedule your appointment.

LACCF is not able to assist in criminal or traffic law.

Jill L. Dunham-Schuller
Executive Director
Space Coast CIL
571 Haverty Court, Ste. W
Rockledge, FL  32955
(321) 633-6011 Voice/TTY
(321) 543-1272 Cell

Yesterday, I wrote an article for the Carlton County, South Carolina self-advocacy group that meets in Walterboro in our ministry newsletter.  When the group began about ten years ago, the members wanted to have dues.  They are minimal $1 per person, per meeting.  Things went well for a time, then one by one people stopped bringing their dues.  Sure, there were thre or four people who paid their dues, but most of the people “forgot.”

These dues were to pay for parties and other events.  At one party, the people who were not paying dues complained about the refreshments and that they had to help pay for the entertainment.  The members who had been giving regularly were not happy about the reactions of the people who had not been paying their dues.  They decided that it was time to put a stop to the fact that the members wanted parties and events but they didn’t want to help pay.

There was a new vote.  The result was that everyone would be required to pay the monthly dues if they were members.  If someone didn’t pay for one month, then the person was rquired to bring $2 the next month.  If the person did not pay after four months, they were no longer considered members; and they would not be allowed to go on the summer trips and events that are paid by the agency and friends who help sponsor the program.

Feathers were ruffled and people complained.  But the self-advocates stuck by their decision and they have not allowed non-paying members to continue to sponge off of the efforts and dues of a few people.  As a result, their membership has grown and people are actually taking real ownership of this important program.

There are times we feel that we must always help people who are disabled.  However, there are other times that their greatest growth comes from allowing people in the disability community to fail and then grow from failure.  That is, after all the way most of us grow, isn’t it?

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:


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.


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.


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:

After a hard day of advocacy in Tallahassee meeting with legislators, People First takes a break.

I received this e-mail from Laura Moheskey regarding the Florida DD waiver changes proposed by the state legislators.
Subject: Call to action
You are receiving an email from me because of one of the following reasons: You are a consumer or a family member of someone on the D.D. waiver OR you are a provider/agency that works with the D.D. waiver. Either way, this is an important email and I am asking you to PLEASE take some time and RESPOND to the CALL.

On Monday, I will be going to Tallahassee with a group called Peoples First of Brevard. This group is set up of individuals who are self advocates. My role is to only assist them and give guidance. It will be our third trip since November. Each time we go, we have had the opportunity to speak either in front of the Senate or the House. I believe this group is now being taken seriously in our State’s Capital.

On the 15th, 16th, and 17th there will be meetings by the Senate Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations the subject matter: MEDICAID REFORM.

Reforming the Medicaid system will have a harsh impact on individuals who are disabled and on the D.D. Waiver.

I am asking each one of you to take some time to call and email the following Senators on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.. Please tell them “One Size Does Not Fit All – Leave the DD waiver alone – NO HMO’s. . Be prepared to leave your name and zip code when you call.

I know everyone is busy, don’t assume someone else will do this. There are 31,000 people on the D.D. waiver. Emails are going around the State this weekend. If only a handful of folks do this then we might as well fold up now. The impact has to be HUGE.

Individuals who are disabled need a voice. Please let it be yours.

Thank you
Laura Mohesky

Here are the Senators on the Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations and contact info.:

Sen. Negron, Chair; Rep.;


Sen. Rich, Vice Chair; Dem.;


Sen. Gaetz, Rep.;


Sen. Garcia, Rep.; 1-850 -487-5106

Sen. Oelrich, Rep.;

1-850 -487-5020

Sen. Richter, Rep.;

1- 850- 487-5124

Sen. Sobel Dem.,;

1- 850-487-509

The Networks Self-Advocates traveled to Tallahassee to see the Florida legislators.  Here is several links to some of the articles their visit engendered.  The two people holding the sign are self-advocates from Titusville.




*We are fundamentally opposed to the aspect of Medicaid Reform that entrusts the coordination and care of the developmentally disabled of Florida to Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s). The current system of identifying, providing, overseeing, and funding of needed supports and services to the disabled of the state involves thousands of private contract HCBS Medicaid Waiver support and service providers who advocate for the needs of their caseloads and strive to get the needs of the developmentally disabled citizens of the State met. These providers work in concert with the state’s Agency for Persons with

Disabilities (APD) playing a significant role in quality assurance and oversight of the system. Surrendering the entire service system over to contracted HMO’s would eliminate choice, eliminate adequate oversight, and it would create a system nearly impossible for a developmentally disabled citizen and/or their family to navigate. Our reasons for opposing an HMO take over of the support and services system for the developmentally disabled of Florida are:

HMO is Not the Model That Best Serves the Developmentally Disabled Population

*There is something fundamentally different about being developmentally disabled versus any other kind of public assistance recipient — HMO is not geared for them.*

  • · Developmentally disabled (“DD”) recipients had absolutely no choice being born with their conditions and situations. They made no mistakes, errors in judgment and the nature of their assistance is hardly ever temporary.
  • · They will need life long care and support from an established cadre of specialized providers knowledgeable in DD issues. This care involves much more than merely medical concerns.
  • · There are social, self-care and self-advocacy issues that are unique to them. Many are non-verbal and nearly all could not successfully understand and navigate an HMO’s 1-800 number access system nor be able to advocate for their own needs effectively against an HMO’s opposition to funding services. Disabled people are easily intimidated and confused. Frequently they are cared for by highly stressed single caregivers. Yet they are lumped together with non-disabled welfare recipients.
  • · 30,000 people with disabilities and their families including over 2.7 million other voting Floridians will be negatively impacted. HMOs and PPNs are based on a medical model not on the special needs of DD consumers.



The thousands of service providers in the current system are hired and fired by the recipients of services THEMSELVES.

  • · In other words, the disabled of Florida now have the greatest choice in the freest fair-market system anywhere in the country. They have an independent case manager–a Support Coordinator whom they can hire and fire–whose overriding responsibility is to advocate for their preferences, help them identify their needs, and then assist them in navigating many complex service systems.
  • · When a disabled recipient is unhappy with the service provider (Support Coordinator, Respite provider, Companion, etc.), they can immediately terminate them and then be assisted in interviewing and locating a replacement provider that will best meet their needs.
  • · Going to an HMO model would eliminate this choice-based fair-market model. It would require them to rely on an HMO-funded case manager—a case manager WITHIN the HMO itself to push for support and service approvals and navigate the HMO’s complex requirements for these service approvals. In other words the HMO-funded case manager would be tasked with advocating against his own employer on behalf of the disabled person. This represents a debilitating conflict of interest as the HMO’s essential concern is profit and that case manager works for them. HMO’s have no established history of dealing effectively with this inherent conflict.
  • · A developmentally disabled recipient would essentially go from a model offering thousands of providers to a small handful. Opting for an HMO take-over of services for the developmentally disabled of Florida removes choice for these citizens and needlessly eliminates the highly specialized providers that these disabled individuals have known for years, come to trust, and who have developed an accurate and effective understanding of them and their needs. *This is a process that takes years with this population and equates in many cases to their avoiding institutionalization. Eliminating the independent provider system in favor of approximately 4 HMO’s carving up the state eliminates the current independent advocate provider system. This represents removing independent third party advocacy for the most vulnerable, poor and disabled population of the state.

Fiscal Responsibility:

It is understood that the state is in difficult financial times and that spending must be reduced.

  • · The developmentally disabled of Florida and their caregivers as well as the provider system that works for them understand the need for a sustainable system. The current Agency for Persons with Disabilities

(APD) and HCBS Medicaid Waiver systems afford the state an effective infrastructure to enforce accountability and compress funding when times are tough.

  • · Rather than paying HMO’s a fully-funded contract UP FRONT for five years, the current system allows the state to enact reductions at any time until the economic situation improves. Simply put, the current system allows the Florida state government real, dynamic flexibility. (*You can tear pages out of the

Waiver Services Handbook but keep the book so that when you can you add those pages BACK IN.)

  • · The current ‘Tier system’ places recipients into capped budgets. This is a ready infrastructure that allows you to decrease budgets for individuals receiving services when you have no other choice because of the economic situation. And again, when the budget improves, you can increase the Tier budgets for recipients.
  • · Once in a contract with an HMO you are stuck with that system for 5 years, regardless of how well or poorly the HMO performs. Historical data throughout the history of HMO’s in this country shows it is extremely difficult and costly to recoup funding from them when improprieties are discovered.


On Sunday, I received a “comment” from Iran regarding the “Give Us a King” entry of last week.  The words were simply, “Pray for revolution.”  My heart was torn.  Of course, I left the comment.  As all of us know the uprising in Iran has been driven and publicized by the most unconventional means.  Tweeter has played a big part.  The world has seen the young woman, Nada, who was killed while walking with her father and other shocking images transferred via cell phones.

Yet, my mind could not help but go back to a meeting that I was told about by a head of a ministry for mentally challenged persons living in another state.  He had attended this conference several years ago.  It was a Christian men’s rally and the emphasis was reconciliation with the black community.  There were prayers and forgiveness and confessions.  God moved in a powerful way.

This brief acquaintance of mine had come to Florida on his way home.  He had stopped to visit DisneyWorld with his family and to see what is happening in Central Florida in regard to ministry to people who are mentally challenged.  In the debriefing that often goes on after a large conference, the pastor sat quietly stoic.  His head was lowered and he rested his arms on this legs as he confided that in the midst of the meeting he was shaken because most of what was begin discussed is still openly and unashamedly happening to people who are mentally challenged. 

I am proud of President Barak Obama.  I’m a staunch conservative and I’m leery of most of the social programs that he supports; but I am incrdibly proud that we have a black president.   However, even he isn’t shy about using a degrading “Special Olympics” comparison.

From the highest offices to degrading movies and slang on the streets, the mentally challenged community still suffers the most degrading and ungodly discrimination.  And I wish it stopped there. 

 Again and again, the most vulnerable are chosen to receive the most budget cuts.  It is considered good social work to put a mentally challenged person, in a low rent apartment in extremely horrific parts of town, with little money and virtually no supports.  What other group of people in America would be victimized in this way? 

A couple of years ago, a good friend and a member of Special Gathering was encouraged by her supported living coach to move from her safe and secure Adult Living Facility (ALF) into another town in a section of that city which was considered the worst part of our county.  She was told that it would be good for her because she would be around younger people.  Her family and all her friends were against the move but her social worker wanted her to “taste the joys of real independence.” 

The first night Kathy’s next door neighbor was shoot and killed in a gun battle that took place in the hallway of the apartment complex.  Kathy became a virtual prisoner in her own apartment, afraid to even venture outside the door.  Her mother could no longer do the twice-weekly drop-in visits that meant so much to Kathy’s mental stability.  Because Kathy was wheel-chair bound, her family and friends could no longer rescue her when she fell.  911 was available but it wasn’t the same. 

Kathy found that the “young people” who lived in her apartment were prostitutes and criminals.  Their vile lifestyles were abhorrent to her.  Of course, she had lost her much-sought-after apartment in the ALF.  She had to endure the fear and danger of her new situation for more than a year before another apartment became available.   

This is only one story.  One incident.  However, it is an all too-common picture.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  There are responsible social workers but many of them are caught in a system that demands an inclusion paradigm above all other considerations. 

Therefore, my request today is pray for the non-revolution within the mentally challenged community.  These vulnerable people will never rebel.  They want approval and have few demands.  Pray for a most vulnerable people who suffer discrimination, abuse and wrong everyday and it isn’t in Iran.  It may even be in your state, in your city, in your community.

May 13, 2009    Volume 9, Issue 7          
                         Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc.  
                          124 Marriott Drive, Suite 203, Tallahassee, FL    
                        Phone: (850) 488-4180 / (800) 580-7801 ~ Fax: (850)
                          922-6702 ~ TDD (850) 488-0956 / (888) 488-8633    
                          Behavioral   Assistant  Services  and  Behavioral
                          Assessment Restored!
                          The  Florida  Legislative Session is over and the
                          restoration   of   behavioral   services   is   a
                          highlight.    Providers    and    advocates   for
                          individuals with developmental disabilities found
                          a  way  to increase revenue to pay for behavioral
                          services.   Intermediate   Care   Facilities  for
                          individuals   with   developmental   disabilities
                          (ICF/DD)   Medicaid   providers   can  contribute
                          increased  revenue  toward  Medicaid  funding and
                          draw  down additional federal matching dollars by
                          assessing  quality  assessment fees. Other states
                          have  used  such  fees  to  serve  individuals in
                          waiver  programs. Florida stands to receive 10-13
                          million dollars in increased revenue by assessing
                          a  quality  assessment  fee  which may be how the
                          state  will pay for behavioral assistant services
                          and the Behavioral assessment service. Additional
                          highlights  that  were  included  in  the  budget
                          proviso  language for the Agency for Persons with
                          Disabilities (APD) included:                      
                                The  provision  that  the agency may expand
                                enrollment  in  the  Consumer Directed Care
                                Plus  Program  by  up to 2,500 individuals.
                                Any  savings  generated from this expansion
                                may be used to serve clients on the waiting
                                Consolidating    durable   and   consumable
                                medical   supplies   purchasing,  effective
                                January 1, 2010.                            
                          Flexible Benefits                                
                           Contingent on receiving required federal          
                          approvals, the Agency for Health Care            
                          Administration and APD may add a flexible benefit
                          service to each Home and Community-Based Services
                          Waiver administered by the agency. This service  
                          shall be self-directed and provide the choice to  
                          receive the flexible benefit service.The Fiscal  
                          Year 2009-10 amount of the service may not exceed
                          92 percent of the individual’s total projected    
                          Fiscal Year 2009-10 expenditures for adult day    
                          training, companion services, respite care,      
                          supported employment, supported living coaching,  
                          and in-home support services.                    
                          An individual may not be authorized to receive    
                          simultaneously the flexible benefit service and  
                          any of the following services: adult day          
                          training, companion services, respite care,      
                          supported employment, and supported living        
                          coaching, or in-home support services.            
                          The flexible benefit service may allow training  
                          for the individual or the person authorized to    
                          make decisions on behalf of the individual to    
                          ensure successful self-direction of flexible      
                          benefit services.                                
                          Also included in the proviso language is the      
                          shift to Individualized budgets;                  
                          Individualized Budgets
                          APD, in consultation with the Agency for Health  
                          Care Administration, shall develop a plan to      
                          establish individual budgets for individuals      
                          enrolled in the home and community- based        
                          services waivers. The plan shall provide for the  
                                An equitable distribution of available      
                                resources among individuals based on an    
                                assessment process that includes client    
                                characteristics and a valid formal          
                                assessment instrument;                      
                                Client  choice  of  services  and providers
                                once the individual budget is determined;  
                                Any  formulas necessary to predict resource
                                needs and establish individual budgets;    
                                A   recommended   role  for  providers  and
                                support coordinators                        
                                during  the assessment process to avoid any
                                potential conflicts of interest;            
                                A proposed schedule for implementation; and
                                any suggested statutory revisions necessary
                                to implement individual budgets.            
                          The agency shall consider input from stakeholder  
                          groups, including self-advocates, family members,
                          service providers, waiver support coordinators,  
                          and advocacy organizations in developing the      
                          plan. The plan shall be delivered to the          
                          Governor, the chair of the Senate Policy and      
                          Steering Committee on Ways and Means, and the    
                          chair of the House Full Appropriations Council on
                          General Government and Healthcare no later than  
                          February 1, 2010.                                
                          SB 1660 Relating to Agency for Persons with      
                          Disabilities sponsor(s) by Peaden, Jr.  CS        
                          Sponsors: Health and Human
                          HB 745 Relating to Prepaid Services for Parents  
                          of Children with Developmental Disabilities by    
                          Ford was added to this conforming bill. This      
                          language establishes a study group to determine  
                          the feasibility of creating a prepaid service    
                          plan for children with disabilities modeled after
                          the Florida prepaid college plan. The            
                          prepaidservice plan would allow funds to be paid  
                          into a fund on behalf of a child and would be    
                          used for vouchers for services to help the child  
                          to transition into the workforce. See more on    
                          this study group below.                          
                          The Senate language that prioritizes the wait    
                          list was accepted with an implementation date of  
                          July 2010 to allow an extra year for participant  
                          and family input through the rule workshop and    
                          rule promulgation process.                        
                          04/09/09 SENATE Placed on Calendar, on second    
                          Read Second Time; Read Third Time; Substituted    
                          for HB 5111; Passed (Vote: 116 Yeas / 0 Nays);    
                          Compare Bills                                    
                          HB 5111 – Relating to Agency for Persons with    
                          Disabilities by Human Services Appropriations    
                          04/17/09 HOUSE Read Third Time; Amendments        
                          Withdrawn (618901, 641877); Substituted for SB    
                          1660; Laid on Table, Refer to SB 1660            
                          SB 242 Relating to Autism Spectrum Disorder      
                          Screening for Minors by Ring
                          In the Senate some of the Autism bills were      
                          combined by amendments to Senator Ring’s          
                          Immunization bill SB 242. Senator Bennett offered
                          several amendments that were accepted with the    
                          Senator’s assurances that the concerns that were  
                          offered during public testimony would be          
                          seriously considered for inclusion in the final  
                          bill. The amendments that were added to Senator  
                          Ring’s screening bill (below) include;            
                                The elimination of organic or inorganic    
                                mercury in excess of 0.1microgram per      
                                milliliter in childhood vaccines.          
                                The  right  for formal clarification of the
                                side  effects  etc.  of  childhood vaccines
                                that are outlined by the Center for Disease
                                The  right to choose an alternative vaccine
                                schedule  in  consultation with a physician
                                as  long  as  vaccines are completed before
                                school starts.                              
                          04/21/09 SENATE temporarily postponed by Policy &
                          Steering    Committee    on    Ways   and   Means
                          05/11/09   SENATE   Died  in  Policy  &  Steering
                          Committee       on       Ways      and      Means
                          Companion                                    Bill
                          HB  0033  – Relating to Childhood Vaccinations by
                          05/08/09  HOUSE  Died in PreK-12 Policy Committee
                          SB 308 – Relating to Developmental Disabilities  
                          by Ring CS Sponsors: Health Regulation Committee,
                          Banking and Insurance Committee                  
                          This bill requires that a physician refer a minor
                          to an appropriate specialist for screening for    
                          autism spectrum disorder or other developmental  
                          disability and inform the parent or legal        
                          guardian of the right to direct access to that    
                          specialist under certain circumstances. Requires  
                          certain insurers and HMOs to provide direct      
                          patient access to an appropriate specialist for  
                          screening, evaluation of, or diagnosis for autism
                          spectrum disorder, etc. EFFECTIVE DATE:          
                          04/24/09 SENATE Withdrawn from Policy & Steering  
                          Committee on Ways and Means; Placed on Calendar,  
                          on second reading; Placed on Special Order        
                          Calendar for 04/28/09                            
                          05/11/09 HOUSE Died in Committee on Insurance,    
                          Business, & Financial Affairs Policy (after being
                          referred back to this committee).                
                          Compare Bills                                    
                          HB 0089 – Relating to Autism by Precourt          
                          05/08/09 HOUSE Died in Insurance, Business &      
                          Financial Affairs Policy Committee                
                          SB 2314 – Relating to Affordable Housing/Persons  
                          with Special Needs by Wise
                          This bill provides criteria relating to the      
                          distribution of proceeds from the excise tax on  
                          documents to increase housing accessibility for  
                          persons with special needs. The bill also        
                          provides additional policy guidelines under the  
                          state housing strategy for the development of    
                          programs for housing production or                
                          rehabilitation. The bill includes persons with    
                          special needs as a tenant group for specified    
                          purposes of the State Apartment Incentive Loan    
                          Program, etc. EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.        
                          05/11/09 SENATE Died in Committee on Finance and  
                          Compare Bills                                    
                          HB 1009 – Relating to Affordable Housing by      
                          Roberson (Y)                                      
                          05/01/09 HOUSE                                    
                          Indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from        
                          HB 353 by Porth                                  
                          Relating to McKay Scholarships for Students with  
                          This bill authorizes students who receive certain
                          services under the Voluntary Pre- Kindergarten    
                          Program to receive the John M. McKay Scholarship.
                          This bill deletes the requirement that a student  
                          must have spent the prior school year in          
                          attendance at a Florida school.                  
                          The bill provides certain rights and requires    
                          information explaining the rights and            
                          responsibilities that parents, guardians and      
                          teachers have when they make certain decisions.  
                          The bill requires DOE to recommend training for  
                          school personnel in procedures for safe restraint
                          of students. The bill also requires a private    
                          school to refund scholarship payment under        
                          certain circumstances and permits students to    
                          receive scholarship services at locations other  
                          than a private school’s site under specified      
                          Alternative Sites for Instruction and Services –  
                          A student eligible for a scholarship under this  
                          section, including a student with autism spectrum
                          disorder who participates in the program for      
                          students who are homebound or hospitalized, may  
                          receive regular and direct instruction and        
                          services from a private school at a site other    
                          than the school’s physical location if the        
                          following criteria are met:                      
                                The student’s parent provides a notarized  
                                statement from the medical doctor or        
                                psychologist treating the student’s        
                                disability which certifies that the        
                                student’s welfare or the welfare of other  
                                students in the classroom will be          
                                jeopardized if the student is required to  
                                regularly attend class at the school’s      
                                physical location. The notarized statement  
                                must be:                                    
                                Annually provided to the department at      
                                least 60 days prior to the date of the      
                                first scholarship payment for each school  
                                Based on an annual review of the student’s  
                                disability by the student’s medical doctor  
                                or psychologist.                            
                          This bill was referred to the following          
                          committees in the House on 2/6/09:                
                          PreK-12 Policy Committee;                        
                          Education Policy Council;                        
                          Full Appropriations Council on Education and      
                          Economic Development                              
                          05/08/09 HOUSE Died in PreK-12 Policy Committee  
                          Companion Bill in the Senate;                    
                          SB 2478 by Gardiner                              
                          05/11/09 SENATE Died in Committee on Education    
                          Pre-K – 12                                        
                          SB 1124 – Relating to Community Residential Homes
                          by Altman Cosponsors: Deutch, Sobel              
                          This bill defines the term “planned residential  
                          The bill provides that community residential      
                          homes that have six or fewer residents and are    
                          located within a planned residential community    
                          not be required to obtain local government        
                          approval regardless of their proximity to each    
                          The concern for advocates who oppose this bill is
                          that it opens up the option of congregate living  
                          as a licensed living opportunity for individuals  
                          with developmental disabilities. Advocates        
                          believe this option could lead to a return to    
                          segregated living that resembles many of the      
                          institutions that were closed in the last few    
                          There is also the assertion that this would be an
                          inappropriate use of the Developmental Disability
                          Home and Community Based Waiver funding, a waiver
                          that is intended for inclusive community living.  
                          On the other hand, the bill’s proponents feel    
                          that they have a right to choose this option,    
                          have compared it to living in a golf community,  
                          and see these planned residential communities as  
                          safe alternatives that will provide the          
                          individuals living there with more social        
                          opportunities and activities.                    
                          EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.                      
                          04/29/09 HOUSE Substituted for HB 0371;          
                          Amendment(s) pending; Temporarily Postponed on    
                          Second Reading; Placed on Unfinished Business    
                          05/11/09 HOUSE Died on Calendar                  
                          Identical bill HB 371 by Stargel Cosponsors:      
                          McKeel and CS Sponsors: Military & Local Affairs  
                          Policy Committee                                  
                          04/29/09 HOUSE Read Second Time; Substituted for  
                          SB 1124; Laid on Table, Refer to SB 1124          
                          SB 2480 – Relating to Schools/Students with      
                          Disabilities/Restraint by Gardiner -Cosponsors:  
                          This bill prohibits school personnel from        
                          manually physically restraining a student with    
                          disabilities. The bill provides an exception in  
                          emergency cases when there is an imminent and    
                          significant threat to the physical safety of the  
                          student or others. The bill prohibits mechanical  
                          restraint, prone restraint, and requires parental
                          03/12/09 SENATE Referred to Education Pre-K – 12;
                          Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations              
                          Never Heard in Committee                          
                          Identical Bills                                  
                          HB 1449 – Relating to Use of Restraint and        
                          Seclusion on Students with Disabilities in Public
                          Schools by Sachs                                  
                          05/01/09 HOUSE Indefinitely postponed and        
                          withdrawn from consideration                      
                          SB 642 Relating to Autism License Plates and      
                          Autism Programs                                  
                          By Altman                                                                                                                    
                          This bill creates an Autism license plate and    
                          provides for distribution of use fees received    
                          from sale of these plates; the renewal of        
                          registration would include language permitting    
                          voluntary contribution to the Autism License      
                          Plate Fund.                                      
                          The fee for the Autism license plate will be      
                          $25.The proceeds from the license plate annual    
                          use fee shall be distributed to Achievement and  
                          Rehabilitation Centers, Inc., to fund service    
                          programs for autism and related disabilities      
                          throughout the state and to operate and establish
                          programs to support individuals with autism and  
                          related disabilities through direct services,    
                          evaluation, training, and awareness.              
                          Achievement and Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.      
                          shall establish an Autism Services Grant Council  
                          that shall provide grants from available Autism  
                          license plate proceeds to nonprofit organizations
                          for direct services and programs for individuals  
                          with autism and related disabilities and their    
                          Consideration for participation in such services  
                          and programs shall be given to applicants who are
                          children or adults with autism and related        
                          disabilities and their families and shall include
                          those who are on the Agency for Persons with      
                          Disabilities waiting lists for services.          
                          Achievement and Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.,    
                          shall also establish an Autism License Plate      
                          Thirty-five percent of the proceeds from the      
                          annual use fee shall be used to establish and    
                          operate programs to support individuals with      
                          autism and related disabilities and their        
                          families through direct services, evaluation,    
                          training, and awareness in the state.            
                          The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at
                          the University of Miami shall receive 15 percent  
                          of the proceeds from the annual use fee for      
                          distribution, as determined appropriate by the    
                          director of that center, to the seven regional    
                          autism centers. The regional centers shall use    
                          the proceeds to support the services they        
                          The remaining proceeds from the annual use fee    
                          shall be available to the Autism Services Grant  
                          Council for grants to nonprofit organizations to  
                          operate direct services programs for individuals  
                          with autism and related disabilities and their    
                          families and for marketing the Autism license    
                          plate. Effective Date: July 1, 2009.              
                          05/01/09 SENATE Temporarily Postponed on Third    
                          The Autism license plate bill language was added  
                          to conforming language during the last day of    
                          budget conference meetings!                      
                          SB 348 – Relating to Medicaid Buy-in              
                          Program/Persons with Disabilities – 2009 by Crist
                          The original bill provided for Medicaid          
                          eligibility for certain persons with disabilities
                          under a Medicaid buy-in program, subject to      
                          specific federal authorization. The proposed Work
                          Incentive Medicaid Coverage program would        
                          continue to offer Medicaid coverage to people    
                          with disabilities who are working. Once they      
                          enrolled in the program they would have the      
                          opportunity to earn more and save more than the  
                          allowable limits for regular Medicaid and still  
                          retain their health care coverage through the    
                          State’s Medicaid Program.                        
                          This bill was changed to form a workgroup to      
                          hammer out more details on how to implement this  
                          The group would have required that the four      
                          relevant state agencies sit down and work on the  
                          best way to implement this program in Florida.    
                          The bill passed through two Committees in the    
                          Senate and was withdrawn from one committee. The  
                          bill was never heard on the House side.          
                          EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.                      
                          03/23/09 SENATE Reference to Health and Human    
                          Services Appropriations removed; remaining        
                          reference: Policy & Steering Committee on Ways    
                          and Means; Now in Policy & Steering Committee on  
                          Ways and Means                                    
                          Similar HB 0529 – Relating to Optional Payments  
                          for Medical Assistance by Planas                  
                          05/01/09 HOUSE Indefinitely postponed and        
                          withdrawn from consideration                      
                          HB 745 – Relating to Prepaid Services for Parents
                          of Children with Developmental Disabilities –    
                          By Ford                                          
                          This bill establishes a study group to determine  
                          the feasibility of creating a prepaid service    
                          plan for children with disabilities modeled after
                          the Florida prepaid college plan. The            
                          prepaidservice plan would allow funds to be paid  
                          into a fund on behalf of a child and would be    
                          used for vouchers for services to help the child  
                          to transition into the workforce. In addition,    
                          the bill specifies membership of the study group  
                          to include members of the legislature, the        
                          directors of the Agency for Persons With          
                          Disabilities (APD), the Division of Vocational    
                          Rehabilitation (DVR or division), and the State  
                          Board of Administration (SBA), the executive      
                          director of Arc of Florida (ARC/Florida), the    
                          chairperson of the Family Care Council/Florida,  
                          and a parent representative from a local Family  
                          Care Council. The bill provides that              
                          administrative support for the study group will  
                          be provided by APD and  requires the study group  
                          to submit a final report to the Legislature no    
                          later than January 29, 2010, and that the study  
                          group will be abolished upon submission of the    
                          final report. The final report will address      
                          services for which a voucher could be used,      
                          financial requirements, qualifications of service
                          providers and steps necessary to qualify this    
                          plan for a federal waiver program that would      
                          allow for federal financial participation. It is  
                          anticipated there will be an indeterminate, but  
                          insignificant, fiscal impact for travel expenses  
                          of the study group; provides for per diem &      
                          travel expenses for members; requires study group
                          topresent final report to Legislature. Effective  
                          Date: July 1, 2009                                
                          04/27/09 HOUSE Read Third Time; Passed (Vote: 118
                          Yeas / 0 Nays); In Senate Messages                
                          Identical Bills                                  
                          SB 1278 – Relating to Children with              
                          Disabilities/Prepaid Service Plan by Altman      
                          Added to the conforming bill SB 1660 in the      
                          budget conference period!                        
                        Margaret J. Hooper, MSW, Public Policy Coordinator

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