More than 5,000 people have said that they are not happy with what the State of Florida has done about their service.  At least 5,000 appeals have been filed regarding the new tiers.  These appeals were filed by people who thought that they needed more services than the state of Florida wanted to furnish through the Four Tier System.


          This means that the State of Florida must prepare for each of these cases.  They must prepare to fight to keep each one of the new tier assignments in place.  If you have filed an appeal, you will also need to fight with the state.  Of course, you want to win your appeal.  Therefore, like the State of Florida, you will need to prepare your case in order to tell the State why you believe you or your child need to keep the services you now have.  If you do not know how to do this, contact your support coordinator. 


          On the Special Gathering Weblog, we have received almost 1,000 requests from people who have wanted to know how to write a letter to appeal the cuts in their services.  That means that about one in five people who wrote appeal letters, checked with our  weblog to find out how to write a letter.


          Now is the time to begin to prepare for the appeals.  The State of Florida has lawyers and experts.  However, you also have a great advantage.  You know what you or your child needs.  You understand the bad things that will happen if your services are cut.


          I am not a lawyer or a judge.  In fact, I don’t have any legal expertise at all.  However, I’ve attended and participated in several appeal processes.  The first thing you want to do is to put everything in writing, then condense it.  After you condense it, condense again. 


          You may want to ask someone to go over your arguments with you.  Find someone who loves you and has some common sense but that you trust.  Your problem will be that you know TOO much.  You will want to tell everything.  Take their advice about what to cut. Then condense your arguments again.


          It will be an oral presentation.  However, you will want to know what you are going to say ahead of time.  If you have your arguments in writing, you can also give this to the judge for her review during and after the hearing.  You have probably not had an appeal hearing before but remember APD has never had to do 5,000 hearings either.  Their assumption will be that you will come into the hearing unprepared.  Be sure that you surprise them.


          Put the information that speaks to the health and safety of your family members.  If you prepare it days or weeks ahead, you will be able to add to the list things that you may not have thought of on your first review.  Digest your arguments until they are a part of you. 


          Again, the assumption of this blog is that you cannot afford a lawyer.  However, remember you will be up against legal council.  Be sure you are prepared.  Remember prayer is the greatest tool you have.  In James, the Lord promises that if we ask for wisdom he will give it to us and big it liberally.  He also says that he won’t fuss at us for asking.  Ask the Lord for help.  You will be wiser and better prepared when you must face APD.


          What have I forgotten?  What are somethings you have to share about an appeal process.  Has anyone out there actually won an appeal?


FASC Update: Florida Budget Deficit

Hi to all SC’s and providers:    Please see the news clip below about the State revenue issues (oops not included in this blog).  It does not sound good for this year and the upcoming budget.  FASC has met with Jim DeBeaugrine, Interim Director for APD about this and other issues.  Mr. DeBeaugrine is advocating for these reductions to be taken administratively rather than any additional reductions in rates to providers or services reductions for individuals.  We are hopeful that he will be successful in this attempt.  

FASC has also been meeting with AHCA and APD staff on the billiing issues with EDS and are working on resolutions with other providers with regard to these issues.  Will send out more information as we get some confirmation on steps to be taken. 
FASC participated in a Stakeholders meeting with other groups on 08/04/08 including Family Care Council, DD Council, Advocacy Center, Florida ARF, Autism Society, and ARC/Florida.  This was a preliminary meeting to discuss the upcoming sessions and possible issues that might face the developmental disabilities community overall.  We will be working on some common goals over the next several weeks to present to Legislators.  One primary goal for all stakeholders was to have no more cuts to services.   There was also concern expressed about the wait list and ways to help address the needs of those waiting for services.

FASC will update you on the status of the rule hearing on the implementation of the tiers as soon as that information is available.  There seems be information that this is a “lawsuit agains the tiers.”  This is, in fact, a rule challenge on the implementation of the tiers.  The tiers are written into law and will be implemented.  The question remains as to how the APD will implement the tiers.

Stay tuned…Janice Philips of FASC.  

E-Mail received  from a Professional and  an Advocate

For what it’s worth, I personally CONTINUE to be concerned that FASC uses the state APD central program office as their sole source of information. APD’s interpretation may be correct regarding the–perhaps not unimportant–semantics of this being a legal challenge vs a lawsuit.
It will be very important if someone then decides to sue should the state win and the Advocacy Center lose.  As an example take the ‘sooner or later’ comment Janice makes. Is she sure? My understanding of law at that level is that just because something becomes law does not mean they are actually final.
Consider how many laws we have been taught have been found to be unconstitutional for example. My understanding of what could happen is the law would have to be changed, if successfully challenged.  I presume at the Florida Supreme Court level at least–good question for a lawyer really.
We all know that there is a tension that sometimes exists between the legislative and judiciary branches of government at any level. Just some examples that come up on a quick Google search of ‘Statutes overturned by the judiciary’ (*NO implications on me on the search results, please–they are just the first to return!):

Judicial Review

Encyclopedia Article
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Article Outline



Judicial Review, the power of courts to review statutes and governmental actions to determine whether they conform to rules and principles laid down in constitutions. Judicial review is based on the idea that a constitution—which dictates the nature, functions, and limits of a government—is the supreme law. Consequently, any actions by a government that violate the principles of its constitution are invalid.
*or full read at:

Look–I get many reminders across my computer screen daily (daily) reminding me that things are not always going to stay the way they currently are. But it just seems conceptually wrong to let APD define a vision of ‘what will be.’


Birgitt commented yesterday on the Special Gathering blog.  She was concerned, of course, about the great effect that the new tier system will have on our most vulnerable citizens.  I know we all share her deep concerns.  She also commented on the need for prayer for our legislators.  This made me stop and think.  Here are a few of my reflections. 

I sincerely believe our legislators do have nightmares regarding the decisions they’ve had to make over the past months in the 2008 Legislative Session.  And I do believe that they would appreciate our prayers. I remember when Bill Clinton became president.  He had taken firm stands on several issues during his campaign that he later reversed. His explanation: “When you get into the position of President and you understand the multitude of concerns worldwide, your perspective changes.”  That sentiment has been echoed by most of our presidents and lawmakers.

I’ve known many men and women who have been and are in office.  I knew them before they even considered running for office.  All of the people I know ran for office because they saw needs and they genuinely wanted to make a difference. 

Yes, they ran for office to make these kinds of hard choices; but I suspect that the lawmaking process during this legislative session was much harder than they thought it would be.  Birgitt suggested that we pray for our legislators and that is also my suggestion.  Because Birgitt is right, “What goes around, usually comes around.”

Once in office, state lawmakers have an entire state to consider and they must do what is best for everyone, with a shrinking budget.  As much as I hate the tier system and as much as I hate what has happened within our population and as much as I am deeply concerned about our wonderful populations who have had to take these cuts, I truly feel sorry for the men and women who had to make these hard decisions.  They need our prayers.

Have you ever had to make a difficult decision that you later regretted?  Have you ever helped make a decision for one of your members that you later regretted?

 This is a letter we received from the Family Care Council.  Interesting!

Family Care Council

Agency for Persons with Disabilities

Patty Houghland, Chairperson 


April 24, 2008

Family Care Council Florida wants to go on record with the following comments on the TIER rule:

We did not have input to the Tiers and do not believe they serve individuals with developmental disabilities well. We recognize, however, that they are in statute and at this time are to be implemented. We believe an individual budget based on a valid assessment is a preferred method of controlling cost and encourage the APD to work to that end. Since that is not what we have at this point in time, and we must work with these TIERS, the FCCF comments are as follows.

Page 2-“65G-4.0021 TIER Waivers (3)-The total billings in any quarter of the state’s fiscal year for any service a client is authorized to receive shall not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the total annual cost plan budget for that service.” Family Care Council Florida objects to this provision. We believe it will have many unintentional consequences such as:

• Ensure that individuals will spend all of their funding in the cost plan. It is the practice of use it or lose it.

• Prohibit one-time expenditures because it would all occur within one quarter.

• DME and technology tools would be prohibitive because you would have to spread the cost throughout the fiscal year and a vendor would not be inclined to do that

• Penalize individuals and families as life issues occur.

This restriction assumes the lives of individuals with disabilities happen in quarters, which is ridiculous of course. Dental emergencies, acute illness of an individual or caregiver, equipment needs, or let’s look at respite as a service. A family planning a special vacation that does not include their individual with a disability could only use one quarter of the respite time they have in the plan. That seriously limits what the family is able to do. They would have to ask for increased respite for the year in order to have enough available for spending in one quarter to cover the vacation for that year. This would give the individual a lot more respite than needed and may take away from another necessary service. It penalizes the individual or the family needlessly due to rule that allows only ¼ at a time. We see no benefit to this provision, but we do see a lot of unintended negative