State, Community Providers And Advocates Spar Over Cuts
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 13, 2003
PALM BEACH, FLORIDA--Hundreds of people with developmental disabilities, along with family members and advocates for community-based supports, protested Wednesday outside the offices of Florida's Department of Children & Families. They were protesting changes in the way the state contracts with services providers -- changes that have left some providers receiving much less than in the past.
Until recently, the state negotiated contracts and rates with each provider on an individual basis. This summer, however, the state standardized the rates so that all providers would receive the same pay for the same type of service. This meant that some providers would receive more than they used to while others would receive less.
DCF Secretary Jerry Regier, backed by Governor Jeb Bush, responded to the protests by accusing some service providers of billing many more hours in order to make up the differences. Some providers billed as much as 158 percent more in July and August than they had in previous months.
"We cannot have a system where providers manipulate the system," Bush said Wednesday. The governor also accused the providers of scaring people with disabilities and their families into believing the state was going to begin shutting down programs.
The state currently serves about 25,000 people with developmental disabilities, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Another 12,500 people are on a waiting list for services. The change in the rate structure was intended to help the state start reducing the waiting list.