September 23, 2015
Mr. Andrew Slavitt, Acting Administrator
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Acting Administrator Slavitt:
We appreciate your willingness to work with the state of Ohio on its Transition Plan to ensure compliance with the final Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in January of 2014. We are writing to ask that you provide the State of Ohio with the flexibility and time necessary for a successful transition — one that prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of those with developmental disabilities.
We request that during the rule’s implementation that consideration be given to the unique needs of all affected individuals, including those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. As published, the rule does not holistically attend to the Intellectual Developmentally Disabled (I/DD) population, many of whom may not be capable of community employment even with specialized job training and supported job coaching due to their intense needs. The overriding concern is that prioritizing community employment without also considering a person’s individual circumstances, needs, and preferences may pose a health and safety risk either due to these individual’s unique challenges or by subjecting them to an environment that may not be in their best interest. [emphasis added] Without adequate time and support, the rule’s implementation could result in the elimination of a choice that provides I/DD Ohioans with daily structure, meaningful activities, and a productive work environment.
We support the goal to provide individuals with every available opportunity to participate and hold employment in the community. To achieve this goal, the option to choose the best-suited program must be available to communicate, articulate, and effectively argue for the type of support they require. We urge you to consider the current reliance on and future state of the full range of opportunities for this population — including, but not limited to community employment, adult day programs, and sheltered workshops — and the individual’s preference for these programs when implementing this rule. To ensure success, adequate time and planning must be allowed to guarantee the health, safety, and well-being of all individuals who will be entering a more community-based work environment. We encourage you to work closely with and provide flexibility and support for the State of Ohio to ensure that the rights and interests of all affected individuals are prioritized throughout this transition period.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. [This is followed by contact information for Senator Portman’s or Senator Brown’s staff.]
The letter is signed by John Boehner, Speaker of the House, U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and members of Congress Bill Johnson, Robert Latta, Brad Wenstrup, Steve Chabott, Rob Gibbs, David Joyce, Michael R. Turner, Marcia Fudge, and Marcy Kaptur
PDF version of the letter with signatures