This information was provide to Florida's Voice by Autism Society of America State of Florida Affiliate
As you know, Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) has recently introduced a new set of APD “iBudget” rules for allocating DD waiver funds to clients. What APD has introduced is remarkably similar to the rules stricken as invalid and contrary to Florida law in the case of G.B., et al. v. APD.
In the G.B. case, APD was told by Florida’s First District Court of Appeal that it failed to adopt the reliable, accurate and objective allocation system required by Florida law. APD’s previously proposed system of subjective adjustments to reduce or deny funding, including provisions that imposed criteria that appears nowhere in the statute, was also stricken as unlawful. APD admitted in G.B., as well as in the companion federal litigation against it (Moreland, et al. v. APD), that the mathematic formula at the heart of the proposal (the algorithm) produced “harsh results” for clients and was incapable of equitably allocating funds to the client population on its own. Evidence showed that the formula APD proposed then, and is proposing again now, is accurate for only about 50% of the waiver population. In other words, APD’s formula produces the same results as a coin toss.
But instead of working with clients, families and providers to fix the iBudget system after its program was thrown out by Florida’s courts, APD simply reintroduced a new set of rules with nearly the same provisions as the old system. To add insult to injury, APD also included additional subjective and vague criteria that APD can use to further reduce or deny funding.
As a result, Gigi Rollini with Messer Caparello, P.A., in Tallahassee—the attorney who handled the successful challenge to the prior set of iBudget rules—has begun to meet with APD to work toward a more transparent, collaborative and fair process to develop an alternative set of iBudget rules. APD is, for now, willing to take steps to include stakeholders and receive input toward a better and more fair system. APD seems to have the goal of reducing the number of fair hearings, and avoiding further litigation. The currently proposed iBudget rules may surely result in litigation.
We must take advantage of this new opportunity! The goal is to prepare, through interaction with stakeholders, and submit an alternative rule proposal for Florida’s iBudget system.
Ensuring everyone's rights are protected is an intense process to ensure a fair rulemaking process. This process also includes work with statisticians who can assist APD’s contractor (Dr. Niu) to create a more workable mathematical formula that has real-world application and accuracy. Effecting change is a collaborative process and individuals, families, and stakeholders need to work together need to prepare for the possibility of challenging rules if APD turns out to be unwilling to accept the reasonable changes that stakeholders recommend.
The iBudget rules APD recently proposed are attached can be seen at the link below. As you can see in the rules, rather than setting forth a needs-based system that accurately and fairly allocates funds on need, they currently set forth a vague, subjective and confusing process that puts too much reliance on the admittedly deficient algorithm, and too high a burden on clients and families to show their allocation resulting from that deficient algorithm needs to be raised. The system needs to set forth a better way by which APD can accurately and reliably allocate funding based on need in the first instance.
For the details click on the IBudget_Proposed_changes_2015.pdf
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