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.
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  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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AR Choices: Update & Public Comment

Here is a detailed update from Kevin de Liban from Legal Aid about AR Choices.

Also, please note that Public Comment ends on this issue on July 31, 2018. There is one more public hearing on July 26th in Little Rock. Kevin’s update can help you with ideas of what to say as you examine the manuals available for public comment. Don’t miss this chance to speak up for what you need!


As you know, a court invalidated the RUGs algorithm a little over two months ago. DHS is now trying to re-implement the RUGs algorithm to take effect on October 1. Rule-making is the name for the process by which DHS is trying to make this change. DHS has proposed that the algorithm work the same way it did before being invalidated.

Until October 1, it appears that DHS intends to keep everyone on the program at the same level of attendant care they have now and that DHS will not allow any new applicant to the program to receive attendant care services. Legal Aid of Arkansas is actively working to change this through a new lawsuit filed on June 29.

Here is some other relevant information:

(A) The public comment period for rule-making on the algorithm runs until 7/31.  Here are the manuals available for public comment. The public has a right to participate in the rule-making process. If they choose to do so, people may offer comments by email to becky.murphy@dhs.arkansas.gov or by mail to the DHS Division of Medical Services, Office of Policy Coordination and Promulgation, P.O. Box 1437, Slot S295, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-1437. Please include the title of the document you are commenting on when you email. Here is the notice of rule-making that DHS has published for more information.

(B) DHS is hosting public meetings about the rule-making. The remaining meetings is on 7/26 in Little Rock (Ark. Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled ;105 East Roosevelt Rd.). People can offer verbal comments at the meeting. The meetings start at 5 p.m.

(C) Legal Aid has had nearly 200 cases relating to the RUGs algorithm in the last two and a half years. Here is some of what we’ve learned about how the algorithm works.

(1) The algorithm doesn’t provide enough care to meet the needs of people on ARChoices.

The most care someone can get under RUGs is 5.5 hours per day unless they need IV medication, suctioning, tracheostomy care, a ventilator, or a feeding tube (then, they can get 6.5 hours per day). This is not nearly enough to meet the care needs of many people on the program. Because of the cuts to care, many people ended up lying in their own waste, skipping meals, getting bed sores, and staying shut in. Even when people have family members make up for the cuts, they have had to go through more anxiety, have family work outside the home in ways that threaten their care, or consider moving to a nursing home.

(2) The RUGs algorithm cuts the hours of people who have not gotten any better.

People who used 8 hours per day (the max for people under 65) or 7 hours per day (the max for people 65 or over) before the algorithm were cut even though their medical conditions and abilities did not improve.

(3) The RUGs algorithm has not been validated or verified in Arkansas.

The only testing that has occurred on RUGs took place in Ontario, Canada and Michigan, which have different situations than Arkansas. Also, though DHS says that it used statistics to come up with the hours that different people get, DHS admits they lost the data.  This means that there is no way of knowing how or why DHS figured that 5.5 hours per day was enough for someone with quadriplegia or cerebral palsy (or any of the other amounts DHS gives for people with different conditions and abilities).

(4) There is no documented evidence of problems with the system of nurse discretion that DHS used for 17 years before the algorithm.

Before 2016, DHS used nurses to decide the number of attendant care hours. Legal Aid never received a single complaint from clients about the nurses’ decisions. Since DHS started using the algorithm in 2016, we have worked on nearly 200 cases. Now, DHS says that nurses were biased and that the algorithm is more objective or fair. But, before 2016, DHS did not tell a single nurse that they were giving out too many or too few hours, did not do any kind of study to show whether nurses were giving out too many or too few hours, and did not tell nurses to change the way they were giving out hours.

(5) Our clients generally do not think the complicated RUGs algorithm is fair.

The algorithm is 21 pages of computer code. Most average people can’t understand it. Also, the way the algorithm works totally excludes a doctor’s opinion about the amount of care someone needs. People on the program cannot understand the criteria by which their hours are set, cannot fight reductions, and cannot plan for the future.

If you need help or more information, here is Kevin’s information:

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

Compare Medicaid in each State

Each and every state may have Medicaid, but it is not all run the same. According to ASHA, “State regulations and standards differ greatly in other areas of Medicaid, including:

  • provider requirements for Medicaid participation, credentialing, and supervision;
  • documentation requirements for plan of care approval, criteria for services, authorization, and reimbursement justification;
  • Medicaid audit process and penalties for errors;
  • use of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).”

Make sure you’re aware of these differences. For example, TEFRA is an optional waiver that not all states carry, and if they do, they don’t utilize it the same. For example in Arkansas, if a child meets the health requirements, it is accessible for families, no matter their income, on a sliding pay scale. However, the way we understand its application may be specific to Arkansas. If you move, you may not have TEFRA at all.

So how can you know what’s available to you? Use the resources below to find out more about Medicaid and how it’s different across the US!

What if your state has limited resources? There may be more out there than you know. Look around at state and local resources. There are national programs, state benefits, foundations, organizations, and grants that may help you in a bind. For example, check out this list of foundations that assist for children’s special needs.

If Medicaid matters to you, please constantly tell your elected officials. The trend is to cut Medicaid and provide those funds elsewhere. Get the facts to boost your confidence, but don’t stop communicating! Tell your legislators why Medicaid saves you! Here are some ways we could see Medicaid change in coming years.

Each link leads to a different resource we’ve found to try to help you with info or tangible resources. MSL will add to this list as we find more!

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:

PASSE – Phase II Updates

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DHS recently released a new presentation with updates to their work on the PASSEs Phase II. This includes milestones and network adequacy standards, and where they are with Independent Assessments.

They did listen to our concern that people have been enrolled before the networks were adequately formed, and they will hold open enrollment in October of 2018.

Catch up on all previous PASSE posts!

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.

2018 Election Info

It’s election season! In fact, early voting for primaries has begun. That means it’s time for you to do some homework and make decisions about which issues are most important to you. Sometimes your values on different issues may clash, which is why it’s important to rank one of them as most important to you.

Medicaid is a hot topic. We’ve seen a lot of change, and depending on the officials we elect, we may see even more. That’s why it’s important to be informed about election deadlines, requirements, and the candidates.


Your first question might be:

Who’s running?

Click here to find out.


Next you’re probably asking:

What are the deadlines?

Elections for the office of Arkansas House of Representatives will take place soon!

  • candidate filing deadline – March 1, 2018.
  • primary election – May 22, 2018.
  • primary runoff election – June 19, 2018.
  • general election – November 6, 2018.

All 100 House seats are up for election in 2018. Arkansas state representatives serve two-year terms, with all seats up for election every two years.

Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senate are also happening soon.

  • candidate filing deadline – March 1, 2018,
  • primary election – May 22, 2018.
  • primary runoff election – June 19, 2018.
  • general election – November 6, 2018.

A total of 18 seats out of the chamber’s 35 seats are up for election in 2018.Arkansas state senators serve one two-year term and two four-year terms each decade.

Arkansas will also hold elections for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Treasurer on November 6, 2018. The candidate filing deadline was March 1, 2018.

The 2018 U.S. House of Representatives will hold elections

  • candidate filing deadline – March 1, 2018,
  • primary election – May 22, 2018.
  • general election – November 6, 2018.

Arkansans elect representatives to the U.S. House, one from each of the state’s four congressional districts.


How can I be informed about the candidates?

As candidates are campaigning, make sure you take every opportunity to inform yourself. Know what questions to ask!


Have I met the requirements to vote?

Voter Registration

To register to vote in Arkansas you should provide one of the following:

  • The Last Four Digits of your Social Security Number
  • Your Arkansas Driver’s License Number

If you do not have any of these IDs, you can provide a copy of one of the following with your registration application:

  • Current and Valid Photo ID
  • Government Issued Document that shows your current name and address
  • Utility Bill
  • Government Check
  • Bank Statement
  • Paycheck that Shows your current name and address

You can alternatively provide one of these documents when you vote to complete your registration.

Voting In-Person

In Arkansas, you need to show a valid ID to vote. You can use any ID from this list:

  • Paycheck that shows your Current Name and Address
  • Current and Valid Photo ID
  • Utility Bill
  • Bank Statement
  • Government Check
  • Government Issued Document that shows your Current Name and Address
  • Veteran Health ID Issued by US Department of Veterans Affairs

Where should I vote?

Find out.


Source 1

Source 2

Source 3

What if you don’t agree with your Assessment results?

Even though many people may not need to appeal, several of you have asked before about how to appeal your Independent Assessment if you aren’t satisfied with your tier placement. We asked DHS for the appeal policy.

Watch for more resources on how to appeal, tips, and what your rights are!

DHS says that below is the information that you will receive with your Independent Assessment results packet.  Each person will receive this notice after his/her IA has been scored.  These results packets began going out Friday.  Some individuals began receiving PASSE services prior to the receipt of their results packets. 

 If you do not agree with your assessment results:

You, your representative, and your provider have the right to request a hearing.

Requirements for the request:
  1. the request must be received at the DHS Office of Appeals and Hearings’ address below no later than (date calculated from notice mailing date [35 days + mailing date])
  2. Please put your request for a hearing and for any services in writing. With your request, please include a

copy of this letter and mail it to:
Arkansas Department of Human Services
Office of Appeals & Hearings
P.O. Box 1437, Slot N401
Little Rock, AR 72203
Division of Medical Services

If you ask for a hearing, these are your rights, per DHS:

  • You may go to the hearing
  • You may be represented by a lawyer or any other person you choose
  • Before the hearing, you have the right to see your record and any other evidence to be used at the hearing
  • You have the right to present your own evidence
  • You have the right to bring your own witnesses
  • You have the right to question any witness against you
  • You have the right to request, if applicable, certain current services continue “as is” pending an appeal decision if your request is received at the Office of Appeals and Hearings’ address listed above by (date calculated from notice mailing date [15 days + mailing date])

You may be able to get free legal aid.

If you need legal help, DHS sends these recommendations:

 DHS also recommended the following link might be helpful to review:  http://humanservices.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/occ/DHSPolicy1098.pdf to understand the process.

Watch for more resources on how to appeal, tips, and what your rights are!

MSL has attended presentations by other community resources such as Disabily Rights Arkansas who have explained in more detail what to put in your letter and tips you might need. One very important thing to do is MAKE SURE TO KEEP EVERYTHING MAILED TO YOU AS WELL AS ALL ASSESSMENTS OR THINGS THAT COULD BE USED AT THE HEARING. We will be collaborating with these other organizations to release more resources as soon as we can!

 

One Therapy Rule – Part 1

MSL has done some research on a change coming our way. You may have heard of it – the “One Therapy Rule,” formally known as the EIDT Program. Watch this video and stay tuned for your opportunity to take action.