COVID-19 Update
June 9, 2021
HCBS Waiver Amendment 06 Approved by CMS
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved New York state's application for an amendment to the 1915(c) Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver. The amendment is effective July 1, 2021 with implementation of several of the provisions taking effect at the conclusion of the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) COVID-19 Appendix K authority, which ends six months following the end of the Public Health Emergency. The Arc New York submitted comments to OPWDD on the proposed amendment in December of 2020.
Some of the notable changes include:
  • Individuals who live in certified settings will now be able to access Intensive Respite from a Crisis Services for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (CSIDD) Resource Center for up to 10 days unless an extension is approved by the DDRO. Time spent in Respite will count towards the available retainer day limit and paid at 50% of the provider's residential rate. The individual must be authorized for and receiving CSIDD services. People residing in certified settings cannot receive Intensive Respite outside of the CSIDD Resource Center. 

  • Permanent adoption of the telehealth service delivery flexibility that was established within the COVID-19 Appendix K authority. Day Habilitation, Prevocational Services, Respite, Pathway to Employment, Support Brokerage, Community Habilitation, and Supported Employment services may continue to be delivered via telehealth modalities as established by state and federal guidance. Written informed consent for delivery of service via telehealth must be obtained and the remote supports must be described in the person's Life Plan (LP) and Staff Action Plan (SAP). Consent is valid for up to six months. The Program Planning Team (PPT) must establish an agreed upon schedule for in-person and remote technology-delivered services (i.e., remote services cannot be the only allowed method of service delivery). OPWDD's Division of Quality Improvement (DQI) will survey for compliance to these standards as part of their Person-Centered Review (PCR) surveys. These provisions take effect at the conclusion of the OPWDD COVID-19 Appendix K authority. 

  • Permanent adoption of the flexibility to delivery Community Habilitation within certified residences (referred as Community Habilitation-Residential or CH-R under the Appendix K authority). CH-R may be delivered in a Supervised IRA on weekdays with a start time before 3 PM. Written informed consent must be obtained for this method of service delivery. The individual must be unable to participate in another HCBS service outside of the residence due to their health status, and must continue to have regular opportunities for community integration services. Consent is valid for up to six months. At least 51% of CH services should be provided away from the certified residence, otherwise the SAP must contain an explanation as to why any portion of the service takes place in the home. DQI will survey for compliance to these standards as part of their PCR surveys. These provisions take effect at the conclusion of the OPWDD COVID-19 Appendix K authority.

OPWDD will need to revise their existing Administrative Directive Memorandum (ADMs) to reflect the service delivery changes. They have indicated that additional guidance regarding these provisions will be forthcoming. 
Study on COVID-19 Risk Factors Among People with I/DD in Residential Services
We are pleased to share the publication of a new study that provides the first evidence of the risk factor leading to COVID-19 diagnosis and fatality among people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) receiving residential services in New York City. This study builds upon the partnership with Syracuse University and the previous studies released in 2020 and draws on crucial demographic and preexisting condition data provided by the AHRC New York City. 
The study concludes that, similar to the general population, people with I/DD who were of an older age and/or had pre-existing health conditions has more severe COVID-19 outcomes. There is also evidence that a higher number of residents in a setting was associated with elevated risk of COVID-19 diagnosis and death, furthering the need for discussion at the state level on a plan to address these concerns and adequately allocate necessary resources to residential providers. 
We thank AHRC New York City for the dedication to our COVID-19 projects and this groundbreaking study. 

HHS Vaccine Hotline for People with Disabilities
On Tuesday, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a national hotline to connect people with disabilities to information and services to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines. The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is now available to help people with disabilities find vaccination locations in their communities, assist callers with making vaccination appointments, and connect callers to local services – such as accessible transportation – to overcome barriers to vaccination. The hotline also can provide information and resources to address questions and concerns about the vaccines, and connect callers to services that promote independent living and address fundamental needs, such as food, housing, and transportation. Individuals can reach the hotline at 888-677-1199 Monday-Friday from 9 AM to 8 PM (Eastern), or by email at [email protected]. More information can be found here.

RTI International COVID-19 Materials for Spanish Speaking People with I/DD
RTI International is partnering with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to organize interviews with family members and caregivers of people with I/DD to better understand strategies that would be most effective in communicating about COVID-19. 
RTI is looking for support in connecting with family members or support people of adults with an intellectual disability who speak Spanish in the home. 

  • The interviews will take place on Zoom and last about 45 minutes.
  • The interviews will be conducted in Spanish.
  • The interviews will focus on getting feedback on COVID-19 educational materials translated into Spanish.
  • As a thank you, participants will receive a $50 gift card after the interview.

Participation in these interviews is completely voluntary. These interviews will help inform the development of educational materials about COVID-19.

RTI has developed a brief survey to determine if a family or person supported is eligible.

Interested parties can get more information by calling this toll-free number: 877-214-5548
A recruitment notice that can be provided to inform Spanish speaking stakeholders of the opportunity can be found here.

This and all related updates will be cataloged on The Arc New York COVID-19 Resource Page for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.
CONTACT: Josh Christiana, Director for Quality, Compliance & Chapter Relations
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