Thursday, November 14, 2013

Special needs in Minnesota - notes from an ARC and family sponsored meeting

I joined a meeting tonight hosted by Arc Minnesota [1] which was both an opportunity to learn from the work of the local Bender family and a chance to chat with a few local politicians (all of whom I voted for of course).

Unfortunately I was delayed and missed part of the meeting, but I'll share some of the issues that came up. There's much more on these topics in a post from last year - Transition and employment - notes from a Minnesota presentation.

  •  I heard some good things about the Legacy Endeavors, I think they'd be categorized as a "supported Employment Service Provider" though I'm fuzzy on the divisions.
  • Arc is pushing for a 5% increase in reimbursement for aides and other caregivers in the special needs system. They've gone a long time with no salary increases.
  • The ACA is reducing or eliminating the "parental fees" associated with buying into medical assistance (TEFRA) (!)
  • Minnesota's Olmstead plan, which came out of a court settlement following the meto case, is starting to turn into laws. There's a focus on licensing and quality improvement for provider organizations and moving towards individual annual budgets and "increased flexibility" [2]. A long promised self-directed support option for personal are attendants might become real.
  • There's some legislative pressure to limit use of family members as paid Personal Care Attendants due to vague fears of fraud and abuse. This practice is most common amongst 'communities of color' . The common pattern in special needs services is to put in place so many 'fraud and abuse' safeguards that programs become almost useless.
  • The Federal move to limit use of group homes realized most of its money savings from reducing 24 hour surveillance costs.
  • Minnesota schools are have accelerated inclusion programs in late High School. Personally we haven't noticed any changes - certainly not any improvements. (For example.)
  • States vary in how they deal with maintenance of disability benefits when income rises above poverty level. Minnesota is particularly harsh -- ensuring special needs persons with disabilities will be just barely out of federal poverty. There didn't seem to be a lot of energy for changing this.

[1] I believe The Arc used to be A.R.C, and the R stood for what you might expect. Now it's an "Arc" as in the curvy thing. Incidentally, The Arc has a legislative blog. I had no idea - I've added it to the MSP special needs search engine.

[2] "Flexibility" can be a euphemism for "free to do whatever you want and here's a ticket out of town". We'll see.