COVID-19 Update
August 4, 2020

OSC Audit of OPWDD Transportation Expenses and Services
The Office of the New York State Comptroller (OSC) completed an audit of the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) transportation expenses and services. The audit findings, recommendations, and OPWDD's response can be viewed in the OSC July 2020 Audit Report. The Times Union also published a story on the audit on July 30. 
Transportation safety guidance has been provided by OPWDD as part of their "Supporting Individuals to Safely Access the Community" Safety Alert
Chapters should review the OSC report and OPWDD Safety Alert and discuss their own internal transportation controls in relation to the audit findings.
NYS Travel Advisory Update
The New York state travel advisory has been updated to add Rhode Island and remove Delaware and Washington, D.C. The current list of designated states on the travel advisory can be viewed here

COVID-19 Reporting Requirements Clarification
OPWDD's July 29 "Revised Staffing Guidance for Management of COVID-19" document included directions to report suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to OPWDD's Incident Management Unit (IMU). The directions made no mention of notification to the New York State Justice Center. We reached out to OPWDD's Director of Incident Management to seek clarification on the reporting process and expectations. OPWDD clarified that the reporting requirements set forth in the May 1 "COVID-19 Notification & IRMA Requirements for OPWDD Providers" guidance remain in effect.  

CARES Act Update: Unemployment for Those Who Self Insure 
We have received questions from several Chapters regarding whether updated information has been provided on when employers can expect to see 50% of their unemployment insurance costs covered or reimbursed by the state. President Trump recently signed the Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act (S.4209). This bill overrides the Labor Department requirement that self-insured nonprofits must pay 100% of benefits and be reimbursed after the fact by their respective state. Implementation and timeline on when employers can expect to see this change reflected on their statements has not yet been determined. 
Update: Federal Policy Campaigns
Much has occurred with our federal advocacy efforts over the past several weeks. With feedback from The Arc New York Chapters, The Arc US joined forces with national disability organizations to address issues with the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), Retainer Payment Sunset, legislative fixes to the PRF, and the senate HEALS Act. The Arc New York Executive Director, Mark van Voorst expressed the dire situation faced by disability providers directly to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Deputy Administrator, Calder Lynch. 

Advocacy Letters submitted on these issues can be found below: 
The Arc New York has been at the forefront of shaping the national message for providers of I/DD services and supports, as well as the larger disability community. We helped launch a statewide campaign directly to Senator Schumer, in conjunction with our New York state partners and other select states. The combined efforts of state and national organizations has opened up the door to discuss our priorities and shape policy.

It is important that we do not lose focus while negotiations are underway between the US House of Representatives and Senate. If you have not done so already, please follow this link to send a letter or call your congressional representative to let them know that #WeAreEssential.

ConnectNY Panel Discussion on ADA
Schenectady ARC Executive Director Kirk Lewis participated in a televised panel discussion on ConnectNY, which aired July 27. The panel marked the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and explored what more needs to be done to secure equal rights and opportunity for people with disabilities. You can view the full program 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.

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

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