COVID-19 Update
November 24, 2020

The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) shared data regarding the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths due to COVID-19 within the service system. 

As of November 18, 2020:
  • 4,159 individuals supported have been confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • 3,286 of these cases involve individuals residing in certified residential facilities.
  • There have been 483 deaths relating to COVID-19.
  • 5,351 staff have been confirmed to have COVID-19.
OPWDD has not yet supplied more detailed data regarding COVID-19 cases by setting. As a reminder, New York state maintains data on cases by county here.

OPWDD Revised Home Visits Guidance
OPWDD revised their "Interim Home Visits for Individuals in Certified Residential Facilities" guidance. The revisions address the current New York State Travel Advisory Protocols. Individuals who travel from non-contiguous states following visits exceeding 24 hours will not be able to participate in home visits until the conditions of the travel advisory protocols are met. Chapters will need to review their policies and procedures and inform stakeholders of this change.

Recording of OPWDD Waiver Amendment Presentation 
OPWDD posted a recording of their November 12 webinar, which addressed the proposed amendments to the 1915(c) HCBS Waiver. The proposed changes are covered beginning 10 minutes 50 seconds into the presentation. 

Public comments on the proposed amendments are being accepted through December 18. A copy of the draft waiver amendment can be found here, and information about submitting public comment can be found here.

We will be submitting comments on behalf of The Arc New York. If you have comments you would like us to review for inclusion, please email them to John Kemmer and Philip Aydinian.

Revised Housing Subsidy Guidance
OPWDD revised their Housing Subsidy Guidance, previously released on October 20. The revised guidance addresses the completion of the Quality Assurance Assessments during the public health emergency. Annual housing subsidy reviews may be completed virtually in accordance with OPWDD's telehealth service delivery guidance. If a review is conducted virtually, the in-person reassessment must be completed within six months of the virtual review.
Chapters with Fiscal Intermediary programs should review this guidance closely and share with all relevant parties.  

November Supplemental SNAP Benefits
The Office of Temporary And Disability Assistance released a message advising that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients who received less than the maximum $204 benefit for the month of November will be issued a supplemental payment. The amount of the payment will be the difference between the amount of their November SNAP benefit and the maximum benefit of $204.

Payments for New York City residents will be issued between Nov. 14 and Nov. 28. Payments for the rest of the state will be issued between Nov. 10 and Nov. 25. The benefits will be available the day after issuance.  

NYDA Fiscal Survey and Recent Media Coverage 
New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) conducted a fiscal survey of member agencies, including The Arc New York, to capture the impact of the current and proposed cuts on voluntary I/DD providers. NYDA released a report on the survey findings last week, which painted a dire picture. Among other findings, providers reported that, if the cuts are imposed as anticipated, 39% would be forced to close beds, 35% would close residential homes, and 30% would need to close or discontinue other services. The Times Union reported on the survey report  Thursday, November 19.
Last week the Washington Post also released a heart wrenching depiction of the very human impact COVID-19 is having on people with I/DD and the dedicated staff who support them. The story focuses on the experience of individuals and staff in a group home run by The Arc of Greater Prince William County in Virginia. You can read the full story here

We will continue to share our stories as we advocate for appropriate pandemic response and sustainable funding for New York's system of supports and services. 

CDC Facts About COVID-19 Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an information page addressing several myths about COVID-19 vaccination. As vaccines become available, this information may be of use in educating individuals, employees and families. 

CMS Updates COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit 
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an update to the Coverage and Reimbursement of COVID-19 Vaccines, Vaccine Administration and Cost Sharing under Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and Basic Health Program vaccine toolkit, which was originally released on October 28.

This update includes information regarding the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act authorizations related to COVID-19 vaccinations, implications on Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program coverage and reimbursement, and authorization for pharmacies distributing and administering certain covered countermeasures (including COVID-19 vaccinations). 

The toolkit also includes information regarding the newly released Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for the recently announced Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
Building our Care Infrastructure 
The Arc of the US signed on as a supporter of a paper titled Building our Care Infrastructure. The paper explores how the lack of a robust national care infrastructure has contributed to the COVID-19 crisis and further exacerbates racial and gender inequality. It also outlines a National Care Agenda, including ideas for implementing holistic, sustainable long-term services and supports, universal childcare, paid leave, wage enhancement and more. 
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. 

Josh Christiana, Associate Executive Director for Quality, Compliance & Chapter Relations

This email was sent to:
  • President Jack Kowalczyk 
  • Board of Governors 
  • Chapter Presidents
  • Executive Directors 
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