COVID-19 Update
May 8, 2020

Retainer Rate and Enhanced IRA Rate Changes
The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) held a call with Provider Association representatives to announce a change in both the retainer rate program and the enhanced IRA rate initiative. These changes will provide critical sources of cash flow and reimbursement that would otherwise have been delayed indefinitely given the State's cash management actions affecting approval of all new rates.
OPWDD and DOH will schedule a webinar for this Thursday to review the changes with providers. The required attestation will reportedly be available by that time. Please be sure to look for the invitation to Thursday's webinar, and be sure someone from your agency attends.  

Retainer units described below will be authorized as of April 16, except for retainer units authorized for Community Habilitation (CH), which will be retroactive to March 18. 

Enhanced IRA Rate Alternative : Instead of adding additional Direct Support Professional (DSP) hours and associated costs to IRA rates for individuals who attend another agency's Day Habilitation (DH) or Prevocational (PV) program, DOH will authorize an equivalent number of CH-R 15-minute units, which must be billed at the group rate of approximately $6.50 per unit. Since CH-R is a fee, the amount will be different than your agency's cost per hour of direct care (higher or lower).  
Retainer Payment Alternative : Instead of combining revenue for DH, PV and CH for the 6-month period, dividing by 6 and multiplying by .8 in order to calculate a monthly retainer rate, OPWDD and DOH will take the 6-month average of units delivered for each program divided by 6 and multiplied by .8, so as to authorize allowed monthly retainer units that will be billed using your current rate for each program.
Services actually delivered and documented pursuant to the applicable regulations and ADM may still be billed in order to make up the 20%. DH may still be delivered in IRAs and billed for individuals for whom you are not billing for CH-R, except you will not be able to also bill a retainer day for such individual.
Unfortunately, under this new approach there is no way to capture respite revenue in the calculation of the retainer amount.
There will still be a monthly reconciliation. Combined revenue in excess of 100% will be subject to recoupment. 
This is a creative and very helpful alternative to the previous proposals that were delayed, but we will have to study it and learn the nuances before proceeding. 

Return to Work Symptom Attestation and Employee Testing
As we look towards having more staff returning to work over the weeks and months ahead, some Chapters are considering employee symptom attestations and testing for COVID-19.
Regarding symptom attestations, there are two different approaches:
  1. Requiring a daily certification/attestation; or
  2. Requiring a one-time certification/attestation coupled with requiring the employee to notify the Chapter if any of the information changes.
If your Chapter is considering the later approach, we recommend that you clearly communicate expectations regarding notifications of changes, such as when to report and whom to report to.
Questions generally included in these types of certifications are:
  • Are your experiencing, or have you experienced, COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever 100.4 or above, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell?
  • Have you been tested for COVID-19?
  • Have you had close contact (within 6 feet) with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who has COVID-19 symptoms?
If your Chapter is going to use a certification/attestation, please keep in mind that these are considered medical records and should be treated as such.
If your Chapter wants to test employees for COVID-19, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has indicated that employers may administer COVID-19 testing prior to allowing them to enter the workplace because "an individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others." If you are going to test selectively, it is important to ensure that it is not discriminatory. It is also important to ensure that tests are accurate and reliable, consistent with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. The testing can be mandatory, and an employee can be terminated or suspended without pay until the testing requirement is lifted if they fail to comply.

NYDA COVID-19 Impact Survey Report
New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) released a summary report of this week's statewide COVID-19 impact data. The NYDA survey mirrors the weekly survey conducted by The Arc New York, and includes The Arc Chapters' data as well as data reported by other voluntary-operated providers. A small NYDA workgroup, which includes members of The Arc New York State Office staff, continues to review the data weekly. The group is working with Syracuse University to interpret and report on the data to help the field better respond to COVID-19. It is critically important that The Arc New York Chapters respond to our weekly surveys, so that we have consistent and valid data to use as we continue to advocate on a statewide level.
Zoom Boosts Data Security Measures to End NY AG's Probe
Zoom agreed to enhance security and privacy protections to resolve a probe by New York's attorney general into issues revealed about the video conferencing service during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information 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.

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

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