Changing The Resources

New York state is changing the way services are delivered to those with disabilities.

On Monday night, The Resource Center’s board members spoke to attendees about future changes for those with disabilities at the conference center located at 200 Dunham Ave. in Jamestown. The changes will specifically affect the ways in which employment and other services are provided to those with disabilities.

Denise Jones, CEO of The Resource Center, said that part of what is driving the changes are shifting ideologies regarding supporting individuals with disabilities. New York state has placed an increased emphasis on community integration.

MANAGED CARE SYSTEM

Jones noted that the state has also recently promised to repay owed federal Medicaid funds nearing $1 billion and that this promise is driving funding cuts. “(The state) is moving from a fee-for-service system to a managed care system,” Jones said. “The managed care system won’t go into effect in Chautauqua County until 2015, according to board president Todd Jacobson.

Rather than paying for each individual service someone with a disability might need in the current system, there will be one payment to a managed care company which will cover the needs of the individual – a way for the state to cap funding, according to Jones. In the managed care system, the “money will follow the person,” meaning that when an individual receives money for a service, those funds will not be available to individuals that follow seeking a similar service- the money stays with the person it was raised for.

Heather Brown, assistant executive director for program operations at The Resource Center, noted that “The Resource Center is well-prepared for managed care.”

The managed care system will change the intake and evaluation of new individuals in need of services – The Resource Center will no longer be responsible for screening individuals. Instead, the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, located in Buffalo, will screen individuals at the “front door” and decide which, if any, services will be made available to them and the amount of funding the individuals will receive.

The Resource Center is navigating changes amidst three years of budget cuts, including a 2011 state ruling which eliminated the center’s ability to appeal the specifics of budget cuts. A state mandated freeze on brick and mortar development has caused the center to consolidate buildings and focus on efficiency.

WORK CENTER

Currently, more than 200 individuals are employed through The Resource Center’s work center program, according to Nancy Ingram, Assistant Executive Director of The Resource Center. Under the new managed care system, funding for the work center is at risk as the state moves towards community integration for these individuals. The Resource Center is currently looking for local employers willing to provide minimum wage jobs for individuals with disabilities, a step towards the changes coming with managed care.

Ingram added, “(New York State) is spending less money on individuals with disabilities – it is unknown what will happen to those already in the system … The Resource Center will not replace current methods without providing better options.”

“50 years ago, there were no services available for those with disabilities. Parents and family members have fought for these services,” Ingram said as a testament to the importance of community involvement.

Since the regulations are still being formulated, Jacobson noted that “if we ever needed advocacy, now is the time.”

To get involved, contact Nancy Ingram at The Resource Center, 661-1445, Governor Andrew Cuomo, 518-474-8390 or Senator Cathy Young, 664-4603. Visit www.resourcecenter.org for more information.