ARChoices Update

Here’s the latest on what has been happening with ARChoices directly from our friends at Legal Aid:

(1) Second Legislative Hearing. When I last wrote, the Public Health committee of the legislature gave the RUGs algorithm an “unfavorable” review, meaning that the committee did not like it. The RUGs then went before the Rules and Regulations subcommittee. This subcommittee can only disapprove a regulation in narrow circumstances, so the RUGs was approved as a short-term measure to allow DHS to give attendant care to new applicants and to make new determinations for people up for reassessment. But, the chairperson said this:
The RUGs has not proven to be holistic in assessing the needs of the patients. Your presence here today has not fallen on deaf ears and, moving forward, because of your intense pressure, it is duly noted that RUGs is not the system we want serving the needs of Arkansans with disabilities. I believe it would be fair to say that you have the attention and the ears of the legislative branch to assure that your needs are moving forward. While we may not agree 100% on everything, the one thing we know is we can’t stay where we are. And while this process continues out after we do our duty today, then we will work to make sure that we don’t revisit this chapter again.
Even though RUGs was approved, the statement is great news for people hurt by the RUGs. Even if RUGs comes back in the short-term (it might not; see below for updates on the court case), it looks like the legislature won’t allow it to go on beyond December or early 2019. And, the public, media, and legislature will all take a close look at whatever new system DHS eventually comes up with. Personally, it was especially inspiring to see all the people most affected and their families come out and speak at the public forums or at the legislature, offer written comments, and lead the public effort (Legal Aid didn’t organize it).  And, this would not have happened without all the thoughtful and caring providers and other advocates who stepped up. It’s been wonderful to work with everyone.
(2) New System. DHS kept talking about a new system it would implement as of 1/1/19. DHS said that it would start the public comment process on 10/1/18. As of today, nothing has been published about it. Legal Aid will let everyone know when the official proposed rule comes out. The unofficial drafts we’ve seen suggest that it might be easier to understand than RUGs, but the unofficial drafts make it seem unlikely the new system will offer enough care hours for the patients with the highest needs.
(3) Court Case. Because the legislature approved the RUGs, DHS was going to start using it again as of yesterday. DHS asked the court to remove the injunction that stops them from doing that. DHS claims that it followed the proper process to adopt the rule. Today, Legal Aid, on behalf of our plaintiffs, filed an objection and asked the judge to keep the injunction in place (it is attached if you want to read the full legal document). DHS’s public comment process appears to be a sham. 43 different people criticized the RUGs for allowing inadequate care and not taking into account a nurse or doctor opinion in making hour determinations. They offered concrete ideas about alternatives. DHS didn’t even try to address the criticisms or alternatives, which the law requires it to do. Only 1 person was fully supportive of RUGs.
Our filing means that people who have applied for ARChoices services may be further delayed in getting them. DHS keeps saying that it has no lawful way to allocate attendant care, but we disagree and keep arguing that DHS can use the system of nurse discretion in place before RUGs. We are very sympathetic to the people who are waiting on services and understand they are caught up in this. However, Legal Aid has a duty to serve our clients. All of our plaintiffs (and many other clients) have been cut by the RUGs in the past. And, because DHS hasn’t been able to re-assess them for two years, they could be first in line for re-assessment. We tried to negotiate with DHS to get a formal, written agreement to ensure our clients would be safe, but DHS would not do anything formal. We had to file this objection to try to protect our plaintiffs. We have another legal case pending that could get the assessments and allocations started again with nurse discretion and will continue pursuing that option.

Contact:

Kevin De Liban, Attorney
Economic Justice Practice Group Leader
Legal Aid of Arkansas–West Memphis
310 Mid-Continent Plaza, Suite 420
West Memphis, AR 72301
Phone: (870) 732-6370 x. 2206

How to Best Communicate with Legislators

read the artic

If you can’t see the graphic above, you can read the article.

PASSE: Take Action!


The PASSE system was voted in by our legislature last year. Right now, we’re in what they call “Phase I,” and during that time, the PASSEs will manage care for their clients, but Medicaid will keep paying the bills. Then in January 2019, we move into “Phase II,” and the PASSEs’ decisions about our care will matter. In January, DHS/Medicaid will give the PASSEs the money and allow them to decide how to use it.


If you need a reminder, the PASSE stands for Provider-led Arkansas Shared Savings Entity, and like insurance companies, they will be covering the care for tiers 2 & 3, what DHS considers to be higher level need, of behavioral health and developmental disability services.

DHS has assigned thousands of people to the 4 licensed PASSEs after each person’s Independent Assessment completion. If you are affected, you will likely first receive a letter or some sort of notification to schedule an Independent Assessment.

If you have questions, DHS has a PASSE counseling line: 1-833-402-0672. They also have regional people you can talk to.

MSL is actively working to get you more information on the PASSEs themselves. Now that details are coming together, we should be able to get more. The information we have so far is listed below in steps that should help you.


These changes may be happening to you or a loved one, but you can do these 8 things to help yourself in this new process:

1. Make sure your provider knows about the PASSE and everything it involves.

It’s important that you ask your provider to join every PASSE. What if next year, you need to switch PASSEs because of a bad experience, but your provider isn’t in any other PASSE? If they choose to join only one PASSE, you could be forced to make a decision between 2 (or more) providers you really like. What if your trusted Cardiologist who did your surgery is in only one PASSE and your Therapist who you’ve been with for years is only in another? You might have to choose. However, even after you ask your provider to join all PASSEs, they may still choose to join only one because they have invested in that PASSE or simply because it’s a business decision. They have that right, but you still have to look out for what’s best for you; for the people whose care and services will be managed by the PASSEs, it’s best for us to have as much choice and freedom as possible. The only way you can have that is when providers give you choices by joining all PASSEs. Some PASSEs have said they will pay for out-of-network costs or make special agreements, but that’s probably only for providers you don’t see often.

DHS said that they are in the process of setting reimbursement rates for providers – the actuary process. Because of that, some providers will not know what you mean when you mention the PASSE to them. Their business office may know and may be waiting on these rates before making any decisions. However, you can still take this information to your provider and/or to the business office.

The following packets are ones that DHS has distributed to providers. Don’t assume yours has received it. Every provider you use needs to be sure they understand this info about the PASSEs. The last is a collection of contact information of all PASSEs specifically for providers to help them join. Take care of yourself, and take these to every provider you see.

  • A Family letter to take to your providers that explains this for you
  • Resource that was sent to PCPs
  • Resource that explains PASSEs Phase I
  • Resource that explains PASSE Phase II and updates
  • Resource for providers that explains why and how to join
  • Give them the contact information below

Some have been concerned whether ACH is covered. This is the response:

“State supported hospitals UAMS and ACH will be enrolled with every PASSE. Many doctors are enrolled through their networks but may not know that yet. You can call every PASSE and interview them so you are making an informed choice.”


2. Get to know the PASSEs.

*MSL has requested websites for all – check back for updates.

Arkansas Total Care
Empower
Summit (Arkansas Provider Coalition)
  • Amerigroup Partnership Plan LLC
  • http://www.summitcommunitycare.com
  • Their HANDBOOK (rules, your rights, and information)
  • Network Provider Directory
  • Jason Miller
    Jason.miller@summitcommunitycare.com
  • 425 W. Capitol Ave. Suite 233 | Little Rock, AR 72203
  • 1-844-405-4295
ForevercARe

3. Join a PASSE Advisory Committee.

Each PASSE is required by Act 775 (pg 9, line 21) to have a Consumer Advisory Council to give them feedback. They know how things are supposed to happen, but it’s up to you to keep them informed of what’s really happening.

Call your care coordinator to join your PASSE’s council.


4. Remember, you have choices.

Once you have been assigned a PASSE, you have 90 days to change to another. Call your PASSE, and make sure they include your providers. If they don’t, use the info above to find a PASSE that better suits you. DHS is also going to offer open enrollment in October 2018. We will continue to provide more info as we can!

Also, DHS will have open enrollment in March 2019 for all current members. During that time, you will be allowed to switch to another PASSE, and by then, we should know more.


5. If you don’t agree with your assessment results, which you should receive in the mail, know you can appeal.

You have rights, and you can appeal DHS decisions. This is a very new process, and assessors can make mistakes. Check this post to see what your rights are and how to file an appeal. Watch our Q & A with Disability Rights where we answered common questions.


6. If you feel lost, take some time to catch up.

What is a PASSE? Will you be affected? MSL has been following the PASSE from the very beginning. Take some time to catch up and read all about them.


7. Keep MSL informed.

If you learn anything, especially from a specific PASSE, share it with us! If you have any problems, MSL works to solve those for you. Please let us know by:


8. Think about how you’re feeling now, remember that at the next vote.

Our legislature voted this into effect. We called, we emailed, and we visited – all to let them know what we need. If you feel that this good for you, remember that, and perhaps send a note to let them know. You might want to vote for your representatives again. If you feel they didn’t listen to you or didn’t represent you well by voting for this, you should send them a letter to let them know. However, you also have the power to change who is in office. Make sure you place an informed vote. See how your local Representatives or Senators voted on Act 775.

How to Make a Public Comment Before Sept. 12, 2018

DHS notified the public of some proposed rule changes on several issues. You have the opportunity to take action and make a public comment until September 12, 2018 on those documents. How would one choose to make a public comment about the many issues that are changing? Watch the video for more details!

This is how you can place your own public comment for the record:

1. First, follow this link (copy and paste it into your internet address window): https://medicaid.mmis.arkansas.gov/General/Comment/Comment.aspx

2. You will see some documents on a long page that are available for public comment by September 12, 2018. The documents you want look just like the ones in the graphic below. The ones in the long section on bottom are old, and the date has passed.

3. You will want to view the documents. Click on the blue link with that name (on the Medicaid website), and it will download the file for you.

4. Open the file from your document downloads, if it doesn’t open automatically for you.

5. At first glance, it may be difficult to understand, but try to read through it as best as you can. You might understand more than you think.

6. After you read through it, you might want to send in some comments about how this will affect you. For example in the PASSE manual, you might want to comment on what the PASSE is required to cover.

7. You can choose to mail your comments, but the faster way is by email. You can send your comments in an email to becky.murphy@dhs.arkansas.gov, but be sure to reference which manual you’re commenting on in the subject line.

8. Make sure to do this before September 12, 2018!

9. You can also choose to go to a public comment and say your comments there:

ARWorks: How to Take Action

The deadline to comply with work requirements for June was July 5. DHS sent out notices of non-compliance to thousands of people that should have already reached clients. If you have not reported your hours, you need to do so as soon as possible because you can only miss a couple more months before you lose coverage. Even if you don’t utilize AR Works, please SHARE this information!

Some people don’t even realize that they are affected. They don’t recognize the name AR Works, or their address has changed preventing these letters from DHS from giving this much-needed information. If you need more information about AR Works (what it is, its history, how to apply), read this article.

If you are unsure if you are affected or how to proceed if you are, keep reading. We have information below that will help!

Anyone who receives those notices or just wants information is welcome to call Legal Aid of Arkansas at (800) 967-9224. They have special Arkansas Works lines–callers can just press 4 at the initial message, dial extension 6313 for Trevor, or extension 2206 for Kevin.

Check this letter to find out if you’re affected or what to do:

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Here are ways you can spread the word about the changes: 

(1) Check out DHS’ website about how to report your work hours, school attendance, volunteer hours, or your exemption.

(1) Share Legal Aid’s Facebook video. This explains the latest and has a link to earlier videos: https://www.facebook.com/arlegalaid/videos/1755020114575199/

(2) Share the attached flyer (ar-works-flyer-latest.pdf) and handout (arkansas-works-information-for-consumers-latest-05-10-18.pdf).

(3)  Invite Legal Aid to talk to your group, community, staff, or clients. They can accommodate any form of participation (in-person, video, phone), various languages, and any time limitations.

If you want assistance from Legal Aid, here is contact info:

Kevin De Liban, Attorney

Economic Justice Practice Group Leader

Legal Aid of Arkansas–West Memphis

310 Mid-Continent Plaza, Suite 420

West Memphis, AR 72301

Phone: (870) 732-6370 x. 2206

Fax: (870) 732-6373

Facebook Twitter

AR Choices: How to Make a Public Comment

You have the opportunity to take action and make a public comment until July 31. How would one choose to make a public comment about the Arkansas Choices issue? What would one say?

This is how you can place your own public comment for the record:

  1. First, follow this link (copy and paste it into your internet address window): https://medicaid.mmis.arkansas.gov/General/Comment/Comment.aspx
  2. You will see some documents on a long page that are available for public comment by July 31, 2018. The 3 documents you want look just like the ones in the graphic below. The ones in the long section on bottom are old, and the date has passed.
    Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 2.21.04 PM
  3. You will want to view the document named “ARCHOICES-1-18route.doc”. Click on the blue link with that name (on the Medicaid website), and it will download the file for you.
  4. Open the file from your document downloads, if it doesn’t open automatically for you.
  5. At first glance, it may be difficult to understand, but try to read through it as best as you can. You might understand more than you think. (See below for more assistance.)
  6. After you read through it, you might want to send in some comments about how this will affect you. For example, you might want to comment on the use of the algorithm itself, or you might want to comment on how they would score you and how that method may cut your hours.
  7. You can choose to mail your comments, but the faster way is by email. You can send your comments in an email to becky.murphy@dhs.arkansas.gov, but be sure to reference which manual you’re commenting on in the subject line like “Public Comment Submission, ARCHOICES-1-18route.doc.”
  8. Make sure to do this before July 31, 2018!

If you were to make a comment, what would you say? Well, Disability Rights Arkansas has released their official comments that they have submitted. This is a great example that can help you with what you might want to say. Read through this very thorough comment that was written by a qualified and informed attorney, and it might help you make sense of ARCHOICES-1-18route.doc. You might also want to read the previous post about the update and comments from Legal Aid of Arkansas.

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Upholding the ADA: Living in the Community

Everyone on the CES Waiver, all of you who enjoy having your loved one living near to you instead of in an institution, & providers who support waiver services:

The ability to live freely in the community has been questioned, according to this article, by a top official with the US Department of Health and Human Services, enough to alarm a group of Congressmen. They formed a bipartisan group and took action.


“The lawmakers said they were told that Lazare said she believed the Supreme Court came to the wrong conclusion in the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. case, which affirmed the right of people with disabilities to access community-based living, and that she prefers segregated and institutional settings. In addition, Lazare reportedly said she believed that a federal Medicaid rule outlining what types of settings qualify as community-based should be revisited, according to a letter from Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I.”

Even when things are quiet in the news, someone in power is thinking these things. Maybe they want to save money, or possibly they think less of people with disabilities. Some in power think they have the means to change these protections. We need to always be communicating to our legislators why we want to live in the community or why we want our loved ones out in the community instead of institutions. We need to know our rights and assert them!

Laws that protect people with disabilities

The ADA National Network

Take a moment to make our Congressmen understand how much living in the community means to us. They are the ones who would have to fight a battle that threatens the ADA.

Contact our Arkansas Congressmen!!

Contact any US elected official!

Take Action: June Legislative Committee Meetings

Update (6/5/18): The rules were approved in the Public Health joint committee and will be next voted upon by the ALC Rules & Regulations Joint Committee on Tuesday, June 12 at 1pm in Little Rock. Contact the committee members. Read below to catch up if you wonder which issues are being voted upon.


Original post: MSL has announced on Facebook that this committee meeting would be occurring on June 4th and that it was moved to Jonesboro. Here is some information to help you to understand what’s happening when, and what you need to do.

If you’re lost and need to catch up, you can watch a video we previously released on the subject.

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Several important issues are being discussed that affect children as well as adults:

Here is how you can contact the people of the Public Health Committee:

Your Rights When You Appeal

We appeared live on Facebook with Managing Attorney Thomas Nichols from Disability Rights Arkansas to answer your questions and discuss your rights when appealing a Medicaid decision. Watch because this video is full of helpful information from beginning to end!

Thomas refers to a presentation with more information on appeals that you might want to view.

When filing an appeal, you have resources in the state to help you. Even if you can’t afford it, you can find quality lawyers or law advice. Make sure to contact:

Also, we reference Rights that we listed in a previous post. Make sure to read it.