COVID-19 Update
January 29, 2020

Proposed Waiver Cuts Delayed
We learned today that the proposed Waiver cuts set to take effect October 1 - which include the elimination of the 5% occupancy adjustment, therapeutic leave reimbursement reductions, and retainer day reimbursement reductions - have been delayed until May 1, 2021. There will be NO retroactive implementation of these cuts back to October 1, 2020

The Arc New York has been advocating extremely hard in opposition to these cuts. This delay represents a savings of over $50 million to the entire I/DD field and approximately $20 million in savings for our Chapters. We are delighted to hear of this decision. This should help significantly with Chapter cash positions, given their investments in personal protective equipment and hardship pay due to COVID-19 over the last 10 months. We continue to advocate against cuts, and to ensure the sustainability of supports and services for New Yorkers with I/DD through this crisis and beyond. 
Update: Unemployment Experience Rating Charges
On January 14, New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) Commissioner Roberta Reardon released a letter ordering that, until further notice, all unemployment benefits charged since March 9, 2020, will be charged directly to New York state. The state will ultimately reimburse self-insured nonprofits for all unemployment charges incurred since March 9, 2020. The form of reimbursement is still to be determined. Chapters should receive more information in the mail directly from the Department of Labor shortly. We will share more information as it becomes available
Advocacy on Vaccine Administration Concerns 
On January 16, The Arc New York, New York Alliance for Inclusion & Innovation and NYSID sent a joint letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to maintain proper vaccine allocation for 1A population, which includes individuals with I/DD living in certified residential settings and staff who support individuals with I/DD. Again on January 25, a coalition of provider associations wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo to sound the alarm regarding the failure to include the I/DD population in recent DOH guidance, and Executive Order 202.91, issued on January 23, which assigns vaccine access proportional to population, disregarding previous determinations based on highest needPlease note: The original January 25 letter reflected reports that appointments were being cancelled for second dose vaccines. While many first-dose vaccination appointments have been cancelled for the 1A population, and new appointments often cannot be secured, updated information indicates that second-dose appointments are being fulfilled at this time. A correction to the original letter was immediately issued reflecting that clarification. 
On January 25, Senator Neil D. Breslin and Assembly Members John McDonald, Patricia Fahy, and Carrie Woerner wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo echoing the same concerns regarding the new executive order. Finally, on January 27, Senator John Mannion, the new Chair of the Senate Committee on Disabilities, wrote an independent letter urging the Governor to reverse a trend of historically overlooking the I/DD population by ensuring appropriate access to vaccines.  

Media Coverage of Vaccine Advocacy
Collective advocacy around vaccine prioritization has gained traction in the media. A number of stories were released in the past week, including a story which originally ran in the Syracuse Post-Standard, featuring an interview with Erik Geizer. We have shared some of this coverage previously, but a roundup is provided below. 
We continue to advocate for vaccine prioritization for the 1A population, and all New Yorkers with I/DD. If you have not added your voice to the call, you can quickly send a message to your elected officials through our online advocacy tool here. We will update you on the impact of our ongoing efforts to bring attention to this issue. 

Executive Order 202.92
Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.92 on January 27, 2021, extending the provisions of the earlier EOs, including 202.55, 202.60, 202.72, 202.79 and 202.87, which provided the previous extensions of flexibility on criminal background checks (CBC) and abbreviated training. The flexibility is now extended through February 26, 2021. 
We are confirming with OPWDD that the flexibility afforded in OPWDD's interim guidance on CBC and trainings is also extended. As a reminder, we detailed these guidance documents in our August 6 COVID-19 Update.
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, Director for Quality, Compliance & Chapter Relations

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