January 4, 2016
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update

Happy 2016!  I hope you had an enjoyable and safe holiday season.

I am a little slow bouncing back from the holiday relaxation period, thus our newsletter is on the short side this week.

Despite it's brevity we have an editorial about the year ahead.  We also call your attention to a DAAHR session on Accountable Care Organizations to be held on January 14th.

Lastly, we have an important survey on wheelchair repairs.   Please fill it out and invite others too as well.

Happy reading.

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
Editorial: The Road Ahead is Going to Be Bumpy  

When we left off before the Holidays, the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board was considering a proposal to eliminate all non-ADA trips for The Ride. The sort of good news is that the Board declined, despite the Secretary's cajoling, to adopt the proposal at their meeting.  The bad news is that the idea is still alive and will be one of the available options in a report to the Governor.

There is likely to be more bad news in this newsletter over the next six months and beyond.  The Baker administration was getting their feet wet and getting a handle on the issues that they needed to confront last year.  Now they begin year two of their four year term.  I fully expect the Governor to move swiftly to put his imprimatur on programs.  We will likely see an attempt to eliminate many regulations.  We may see calls to eliminate programs.  Above all, we will see attempts to cut costs.  Some estimates are that there exists a one billion dollar structural deficit in the budget.  

Years two and three of any administration are about making your mark.  Year four will be a campaign year. So far, the Baker administration has been open and transparent, more so than the Patrick administration. That could be about to change as the Governor looks to please his conservative base.

I hope I am.  But just in case, buckle your seat belt, put your advocate hat on tight.  We could be in for a bumpy ride.  

John Winske
Guest Editorial :     Time to Push the White House on DME (Update)
In our last edition, we had an editorial from J im Kruidenier about potential changes to DME rules by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The good news is Congress, in the budget deal passed last month, put a one year moratorium on any changes. Now we have another year to stop the foolish proposed regulations.
Calendar: Don't Be Left Out in the Cold

When:  Thursday, January 14, 2016, 1:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M.

Where: 89 South Street, Boston, MA  02111

DAAHR forum on the state's plans for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

 Dan Tsai, Assistant Secretary for MassHealth, will be among the attendees.

For more information, contact Allegra Stout of Boston Center for Independent Living at 617-338-6665 or astout@bostoncil.org.

Calendar: MassHealth Hearing Improving PCA Program  

Subject:  Overtime and Intra-Day Travel Time for Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) under the MassHealth PCA Program.

Purpose:  The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) will host a series of public statewide listening sessions on recent changes to federal regulations implementing the Fair Labor Standards Act   (FLSA) and the MassHealth PCA Program's implementation of these requirements. The purpose of these listening sessions will be to gather information from PCA consumers, PCAs, interested stakeholders and the general public on how to improve the PCA program in a way that ensures consumers receive all of their authorized PCA services while minimizing the need for PCAs to work overtime. These listening sessions will be an opportunity for MassHealth to obtain input on ways to enhance the health care experience of PCA consumers and to gather ideas on how to make the MassHealth PCA program more sustainable. We welcome all members of the public who wish to share their ideas with MassHealth and help us work through design challenges related to the recent changes under the FLSA.

Background:  The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a Final Rule revising DOL regulations that implement the FLSA. The result of this new rule is that PCAs may receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per  week for one o r more consumers cumulatively and pay for intra-day travel time when traveling between one consumer employer's home and another consumer employer's home on the same day to provide PCA services.

What MassHealth is Doing:  Beginning on January 1, 2016, PCAs will automatically receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week for one or more consumers combined and pay for intra-day travel time in which a PCA travels between one consumer employer's home and another consumer employer's home on the s ame day to prov ide PCA services. To facilitate this, MassHealth's contracted fiscal intermediaries will track the cumulative hours worked by PCAs each week, even if they work for more than one consumer, and will automatically calculate any intra-day travel time.

Prior to January 1, 2016, if a consumer needs to schedule a PCA to work more than 40 hours per week, the consumer must contact his/her designated personal care management agency to make a request for prior authorization for premium pay for overtime, as described under MassHealth PCA regulations at 130 CMR 422.420(A)(13).

Listening Sessions:  Information on the three public listening sessions is below. Please note that these sessions are open to all members of the public.

Disability-Related Accommodations:  Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) services and ASL Interpretation will be available. If disability-related accommodations are required for you to attend, or you need materials in other formats, please contact:  Erin.Dore@state.ma.us .

Comments:  Can be sent to:  Erin.Dore@state.ma.us.

Additional Hearings

When:  Friday, January 22, 2016, 1:00 - 3:00 P.M.

Where:  Saxe Meeting Room, Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Square, Worcester, MA 01608

Call in Information: 877-929-7125
Participant code: 3608246

When:  Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 1:00 - 3:00 P.M.

Where:  Community Room, Mason Square Branch, Springfield Public Library, 765 State Street, Springfield, Springfield, MA 01109

Call In Information: 866-565-6580
Participant code:  9593452 (note correction)
Important Survey :   Wheelchair Repair in Massachusetts
Over the years we have heard complaints about consumers trying to get wheelchairs repaired.  Finally someone is conducting a survey.  We urge you to participate by clicking here.
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