ANCOR’s annual conference enjoyed record attendance this year as the I/DD provider community approaches the uncertainties swirling around the Affordable Care Act and other federal regulations under attack in Washington, DC. From rolling back impacts of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rules, to changes to the Affordable Care Act, to Medicaid cuts there was a lot to talk about. Anxiety is high.
ANCOR Board President, Angela King of Volunteers of America, opened the conference with sage advice for all. Ms. King stressed the need for continued advocacy and to need to compromise to find more efficient ways of doing business. Her wise words reminded us we are only temporarily abled, and as we face changes in the Medicaid program, the I/DD community cannot be brought into battle with seniors and other people with disabilities. Rather, collaboration and compromise should rule both in the fight to address the Direct Support Professional crisis and to act against fragmented federal policies that are not effectively serving anyone.
ANCOR’s CEO Barbara Merrill highlighted activities the association is pursuing on the federal front to work against the efforts to block grant Medicaid and the recent ANCOR white paper about the DSP crisis. We’re seeing similar efforts at the state level in places like Pennsylvania with the launch of the Fix the DSP Crisis campaign (which you can learn about here). Ms. Merrill also spoke of increasing scrutiny and concerns around investigations occurring across the country, calling out problems in the quality found in some group homes. This subject was also the focus of Clarence Sundram’s address, who was honored with the ANCOR President’s Award. Mr. Sundram noted that with the end of judicial oversight in several jurisdictions, funding for quality oversight and attention can decline. He also spoke of the challenges inherent in newer service options where there are fewer licensing and regulatory mechanisms and cautioned the audience to not lose sight of the importance of quality assurance and improvement.
Finally, Matt Sellow, the Executive Director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors offered candid insights into the state Medicaid Directors’ concerns and their conversations with federal officials and legislators. In terms of takeaways, state directors believed the new HCBS Settings Rule, the new Managed Care Rule, and the Fee-For Service Access Monitoring Rule, while espousing good principles, represented over-reach in the regulations. According to Mr. Sellow, the Medicaid Directors are currently working with the Department of Health and Human Services to be “reasonable” about the implementation of those regulations.
I think we all know we are in for an uncertain ride in these next few months and perhaps years. Certainly remaining involved in public advocacy, making sure your business is as efficient as it can be, and supporting your workforce is all good advice. Each presenter spoke of collaboration. I hope you’ll share your tips and ideas with me and with your colleagues as we move forward.