A proposed reduction in rates for voluntary resident programs in the coming days by the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities is raising concerns with state lawmakers who urged a minimum 90 day-pause in their implementation, according to a letter obtained by Spectrum News on Wednesday.
The cuts would take effect on Saturday, impacting programs that benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. At the same time, the lawmakers in the letter pointed to the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on these programs, as well as the uncertainty facing families.
Voluntary providers of services for the developmental disabled community have spent heavily on unreimbursed costs during the crisis and are facing sustained financial stresses.
"There is a clear consensus that the proposed actions are not in the best interest of residents, families and service providers," lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was sent by Democratic Sen. John Mannion. "Funding reductions could not come at a worse possible."
In a statement, agency spokeswoman Jen O'Sullivan noted the change had initially been delayed last year by state officials.
“The Budget enacted for the previous fiscal year by the legislature required savings, and OPWDD moved to implement that requirement by preserving critical supports rather than pay the full rate for vacant beds and services not being rendered," she said. "OPWDD delayed implementation of this change from October 2020 to May 2021 to provide relief to service providers who struggled during the pandemic. We are continuously in touch with legislators and work closely with providers to accept individuals waiting for residential services and mitigate any revenue losses related to vacancies.”