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DHHR announces changes in IDD Waiver program

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources has made several final decisions on changes to a program that finances services for the developmental disabled. The changes in the Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Waiver were announced Tuesday.

DHHR Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples said the program has grown $200 million annually since 2006 with $110 million of that coming since 2010.  In state dollars alone, the program has been $40 million over budget for the last three years. He said the current program is eating up funds that could help trim a waiting list.

“The modifications allow us to continue to try to get this program’s budget under control so we can service the more than 1,000 individuals currently waiting for services,” he said.

The changes announced Tuesday, which will go into effect July 1, focus on funds family members of the developmental disabled receive for care they provide and not on the direct recipients.

“It’s not our intent at all to curtail direct benefits to the recipient and that’s why we focused on the benefits that really went to the family. That’s where our program is most rich compared to other states,” Samples said.

There were more than 3,000 comments submitted and Samples said several changes were made to the original plan because of those comments including increasing care hours in some cases and allowing a recipient to receive multiple services during a particular day.

Samples said it’s difficult to predict how many of the 1,000 residents on the waiting list will be able to come into the program because of the savings. He said the first priority is to get the program’s budget in shape. Samples said the program could not continue down the path it’s been on for several years.

“Those trends are not sustainable and they’re certainly hindering our ability to be able to serve additional individuals,” he said.

Those residents generally on the IDD Waiver list have autism, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida or other developmental diseases.

Samples added it’s important to point out the IDD Waiver program is totally separate from the DHHR’s Aged and Disabled Waiver program where a waiting list has been eliminated in recent months.

He said the IDD Waiver does allow parents with children under 18 in the program to work outside the home 52.5 hours a week while the child is receiving care. He said those in the program older than 18, their parents, caregivers, could work outside the home as much 93.5 a week while care is taking place.

Specific modifications to the Waiver application following the public comment period include:

Allowing recipients to receive other services on the same day as respite services.

–Increasing respite hours from the proposed 2 hours per day to 2.5 hours a day, which amounts to 912.5 hours annually that can be used in a flexible manner.

–For recipients under age 18, the application was amended to allow flexibility in how the allocated annual Person Centered Support (PCS) hours will be used. These hours may be accessed on the same day as other direct care services. This flexibility would allow an average of 52.5 hours per week to be available to support the child, permitting the parent or caregiver to work outside the home if they so choose.

For recipients over age 18, the application was also amended to allow flexibility in how PCS hours will be used. This flexibility would allow an average of 93.5 hours per week of combined PCS, respite, and services such as Facility-Based Day Habilitation, Pre-vocational, Job Development or Supported Employment to be available to support the adult recipient, permitting the parent or caregiver to work outside the home if they so choose.

–Increasing to the maximum amount of time for a recipient to participate in a Facility-Based Day Habilitation program in order to comply with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) rule. In addition to this modification, BMS will submit a formal request to CMS requesting additional flexibility in the program for these services.

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