COVID-19 Update
September 2, 2020

State Universities and Increasing Cases of COVID-19
As the new college semester begins, there have been several reported cases of college students participating in large gatherings without adhering to social distancing guidelines or using personal protective equipment. Following these gatherings, there has been a significant increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in several counties across the state. The Times Union ran a story on recent events at several colleges, including SUNY Oneonta. 
Our Otsego County Chapter has been adversely affected by the events at Oneonta. However, the Chapter has taken swift action to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 into their programs and workforce. These steps, outlined below, should be considered by all Chapters as cases continue to increase in areas with large colleges. 
The Chapter instituted a 14 day suspension of:
  1. all new admissions to day services programs and prevocational center
  2. all non-emergent community outings 
  3. all visitors and home visits
  4. in-person training and recruitment (virtual training and recruitment continue) 
  5. all nonessential in-home services (maintenance, massages, etc.)
The Chapter made the following additional changes to staffing policy and procedures:
  1. Reduced staffing capacity at non-essential locations. All employees who can work remotely should work with their supervisor to make arrangements for the next two weeks.
  2. Mandatory rapid testing for all student employees prior to return and for any employees that may have been exposed to COVID-19 through fingerprinting and supported employment duties.
We ask that Chapters share any experiences they may have with cases of COVID-19 relating to the reopening and expansion of day services. We will collect these stories and share them with all Chapters so we are better prepared for a potential increase in positive cases. Descriptions of these experiences and steps taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 can be sent to Joshua Christiana.

IRS Guidance on Payroll Tax Deferral 
The IRS issued Notice 2020-65, which allows employers to suspend withholding and paying to IRS eligible employees' Social Security payroll taxes. The payroll "holiday" or suspension period runs from September 1 through December 31, 2020. This suspension applies only to employees whose wages are less than $4,000 per biweekly pay period, including salaried workers earning less than $104,000 per year.
Based on the current guidance, employers would be responsible for paying the deferred taxes in 2021, and would need to collect the deferred amounts between January 1 and April 30, 2021 to remit to the IRS without penalty. 
The IRS update left many employers' questions unanswered. We are hopeful that clarifying guidance will be released in the coming weeks, and will provide updates accordingly. 
Exemption from 20% Withhold 
The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) reported on their call with providers that certain payments for housing will be exempt from the 20% withhold. Such payments are included in Individual Supports and Services (ISS) contracts, Assistive Support Prices, and direct housing subsidies in self-directed budgets. 

OPWDD indicated that payments made during the second quarter (July 2020 - September 2020) of the State's current fiscal year for invoices related to the ISS (ISS/Housing Subsidy) Program will not be subject to the 20% withhold, regardless of service date. This applies to housing subsidies that are directly available to individuals enrolled in the traditional ISS program and paid through an ISS contract or Assistive Support Price, as well as people who receive housing subsidies and self-direct their services.
To ensure that a portion of these payments are not inadvertently withheld, OPWDD is requiring that any invoices, vouchers and claims for reimbursement of ISS/housing subsidies be specifically identified when they are submitted. Effective immediately, please include the term "ISS/housing subsidy" in the upper right-hand corner of any ISS/housing subsidy request for reimbursement. 
Payments that have already been made from which the 20% was withheld are currently being reviewed by OPWDD. You will be contacted if there is need for further information.
As a reminder, the 20% withhold continues to be applied to other state-only forms of reimbursement.
We will inform you of any additional requirements as they become available. If you are planning to submit a voucher today or tomorrow, we recommend you wait until we receive any further instructions.

OPWDD ICF Claims Edits & Changes in Compliance Program Requirements
On Tuesday, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) released their August 2020 Medicaid Update.
The update details two new claims edits to address the requirement that all claims include the National Provider Identifier (NPI) of the qualified practitioner who completed the annual Level of Care Eligibility (LCED) on each claim for ICF/IID services. We detailed these requirements in our April 12, 2019 Quality & Compliance Update.
Chapters operating ICFs may expect contact from OPWDD if they have claims that do not include the NPI. Claims may need to be adjusted as a result. Corporate Compliance Officers at Chapters with ICFs should add this to their work plan and conduct spot-check reviews of claims records to determine if there is a need for any additional actions.
The update also offers a reminder of the recent amendments to Social Services Law (SSL) 363-d and the requirement for providers to adopt and implement an effective compliance program.

This update is yet another step in the direction toward regulations being proposed by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG). Chapter compliance staff should closely review the amendments in preparation for forthcoming regulations.

As a reminder, The Arc New York State Office conducts Compliance Program Effectiveness Reviews for Chapter Corporate Compliance Programs. We are conducting five such reviews in 2020. These reviews explore the implementation of the  required elements of a Corporate Compliance Program as established by SSL and New York regulations. We are beginning to schedule 2021 reviews. If you have interest, please reach out to Joshua Christiana and Mike McIntryre.

We will continue to monitor the New York State Register for any associated regulations.

NYS Travel Advisory Update
On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo announced the addition of two states to the travel advisory. Alaska and Montana now meet the metrics to qualify for the travel advisory. No locations were removed from the list. Chapters should continue to review the list and advise employees of the current designated states. The current list can be found here.

NYDA Letter to Governor Cuomo
On August 31, The Arc New York joined other member agencies of New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) in submitting a letter to Governor Cuomo opposing the impending cuts to the I/DD system. NYDA called on the state to work in partnership with providers to develop solutions to sustain quality programs and supports for New Yorkers with I/DD. You can read the full letter 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

This email was sent to:
  • President Jack Kowalczyk 
  • Board of Governors 
  • Chapter Presidents
  • Executive Directors 
  • Chief Operating Officers
  • Chief Financial Officers  
  • HR Directors 
  • PR Directors 
  • Quality & Compliance Staff 
  • Joint Committee on Quality & Compliance 
  • Guardianship Coordinators 
  • State Office Staff