In April, Kris Smith, Acting Director, Division of Rehabilitation Services, attended the Counsel of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) in Washington, DC. Topics discussed included the current Workforce Investment Act legislation, vocational rehabilitation outcomes for individuals with disabilities, and promising practices and innovations within the field. During her time in Washington, Kris met with Senator Dick Durbin's office, Senator Mark Kirk's office and Representative Aaron Shock's office to discuss the VR program in Illinois, sharing information and discussing WIA legislation and WIPA/PABBS (Work Incentives Planning Assistance), and protection and advocacy for beneficiaries of the social security program. The Governor's Office staff located in Washington, DC, accompanied Kris on the legislative office visits.
The DRS office, previously located at 1279 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, moved to the Humboldt Park FCRC located at 2753 W. North Ave., Chicago. The DRS office, previously located in Carbondale, moved to 342 North Street, Murphysboro.
Marybeth Lauderdale, Superintendent of the Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD) and the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired (ISVI), has announced her retirement effective July 31st. Ryan Croke, Governor's office, hosted a meeting on Monday, June 25, with members of the ISD and ISVI Advisory Councils and DRS staff. It was announced that Serena Preston will be the Interim Superintendent at ISVI and Joan Forney will be Interim Superintendent at ISD. In accordance with PA 097-0625, two superintendents will be appointed by the Governor's office and confirmed by the Senate. Applications will be accepted until August 1, 2012.
Bureau of Blind Services
Bettye Odem-Davis, Bureau Chief of Bureau of Blind Services; and Jan Sherburne, Assistant Bureau Chief, attended the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind. Information was shared among the Directors of Blind state agencies from all over the US including Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Virgin Islands and the Marianas. The messages were focused on employment for customers who are Blind and visually impaired. Senator Harkin's staff person, Andy Imparato, indicated that a self-employed produce business man who is Blind and from Chicago testified recently at the request of Iowa Senator Harkin on the subject on Entrepreneurship.
Migrant Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFW) Project
A mid-year report from the Migrant Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFW) Project is showing excellent results in linking migrant seasonal farmworkers with disabilities and their families to DHS/DRS services. Integral to the success of the MSFW project are its bilingual community-based approach and the close working relationship with DRS, facilitated in large part by DRS leaders Aletha Alexander in Champaign and Lizette Tripur in Peoria. Among the most notable outreach activities are local health and community resource fairs, which brings together a variety of local and state agencies and service providers for informative and fun events. We are grateful for the cooperation and support of the Departments of Employment Security, Public Aid, Health, county health departments, as well as many other community and faith-based organizations that are working with the MSFW project. Illinois has been in the forefront of serving this historically underserved population, and demographic and economic trends indicate that the need for the program will continue to grow as the population expands.
The Division submitted and filed revisions for HSP rules, Parts 676 - Program Description; Part 679 - Determination of Need and Resulting Service Costs Maximum; and Part 682 - Eligibility. These rule changes are necessary to raise the Determination of Need score from 29 to 37 for home and community-based services as required by the SMART Act.
Senate Bill 1351 passed both Chambers, but has not yet been forwarded to the Governor for approval. This measure amends the HSP component of the Division's enabling act and the changes will assist with HSP programmatic changes and rule implementation.
DRS counselors assisted VR customers in achieving 4,953 competitive employment outcomes in FY2012, an increase of 469 outcomes or 10.5 percent over FY2011. The Bureau of Blind Services increased the number of outcomes from 228 in FY2011 to 341 in FY2012, a 50 percent increase. Bureau of Field Services outcomes rose from 4,256 to 4,612, an 8.4 percent increase from the previous year. DRS appreciates the efforts of its staff and community partners in making this accomplishment possible on behalf of our customers, and looks forward to continued success in FY2013.
On February 22nd, Governor Quinn outlined the details supporting the FY13 Introduced Budget. The General Assembly subsequently made modifications to the budget and it is currently awaiting the Governor's action. Medicaid stabilization and pension reform were and continue to be pivotal to the budget process. Illinois, as well as the rest of the nation, is continuing to grapple with a challenging economic climate. As such, spending reductions, facility closures, and program and policy changes are going to be required. For DRS, there was a 4% reduction in state funded grant lines, an approximate 5% reduction in funding for the Illinois School for the Deaf, the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, and the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education - Roosevelt and Wood and match for the federal In Service Training Grant. The revised budget also includes a 1.5% increase for the Home Services Program. Information below details more specifically the affected programs as well as the known impact. Some impacts are still being reviewed internally to determine the best way to manage the reductions.
The following grant lines will be reduced by 4%:
- Match funding for VR Services - DRS will be forced to rely more on third party match in order to fully draw the federal VR grant.
- Independent Living Centers (CIL's) - Contracts with CIL's will be reduced across the board.
- Migrant Services - The contract established to support these services will be reduced.
- Match funding for the Older Blind Program - Funding available for direct customer services will be reduced.
- Supplemental funding for the Community Reintegration Program - Contracts with CIL's will be reduced across the board.
The following areas will be reduced approximately 5%:
- Match funding for the Training Grant - Limits on the amount of supplies and materials needed for required training of staff in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
- Illinois School for the Deaf - Impacts are being determined
- Illinois School for the Visually Impaired - Impacts are being determined
- Illinois Center for Rehabilitation & Education (Roosevelt) - With the exception of the Contractual line, funding reductions will be managed without impacting services to customers. Specific impacts to contractual services are still being determined.
- Illinois Center for Rehabilitation & Education (Wood) - The reduction in the contractual line will be managed without impacting services to customers.
The Home Services Program will be increased 1.5%:
While the Home Services Program did received an increase over the FY13 Governor's Introduced Budget, the budget modified by the General Assembly still assumes implementation of all the policy and programmatic changes outlined in the Governor's Introduced Budget. Implementations of many of these changes are contingent upon rule changes and waiver amendments. DRS will not be implementing any changes until required rule and waiver changes are approved.
- The eligibility threshold, as assessed by the Determination of Need (DON), will be increased from 29 to 37. Rule changes and a waiver amendment are required prior to implementation.
- The Service Cost Maximums for customers with DON scores between 29 and 39 will be decreased to be more consistent with the Department on Aging's Community Care Program. Rule changes and a waiver amendment are required prior to implementation.
- Individuals with a diagnosis of mental illness or developmental disabilities who do not qualify for HSP based on their physical disabilities will not be eligible for HSP. This will assure the program is administered as originally intended and in compliance with its Medicaid waivers. Rule changes and a waiver amendment are required prior to implementation.
- With the exception of Respite, services to individuals under the age of 18 will be eliminated. Rule changes and a waiver amendment are required prior to implementation.
- Individuals in the Brain Injury Waiver, who do not need a specialized service, will be transitioned to the Persons with Disabilities Waiver.
- The provider payment process will be tightened by piloting a new time sheet. In addition, payments will no longer be made to providers who do not complete a Medicaid Provider Enrollment Form (1413).
- The use of Interim services will be limited to emergencies, as was the case until relatively recently, to assure program eligibility requirements are met. Interim eligibility also will be time limits.
In addition, funding of the Home Services Program will be modified. Historically the program has been funded with General Revenue Funds (GRF). The program will now be dually funded (approximately 60/40), with $331.6 million of the program's $577.6 allocation coming from GRF and $246.0 million from a newly developed Medicaid Trust Fund. The Medicaid Trust Fund will be pivotal to the HSP because funding is garnered from the Medicaid reimbursement the program generates from Medicaid eligible expenditures. This means the program will be tightly enforcing completion of the 1413 in order to ensure enough funding is generated to support the program.