Feds sign off on Ohio’s disability services plan


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio has won federal approval to give more than 36,000 people with disabilities more choices for community-based services.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently notified Ohio that the federal agency has signed off on the preliminary plan submitted in March by the state Department of Developmental Disabilities. That made Ohio the third state, after Tennessee and Kentucky, to meet new federal requirements designed to move people with disabilities away from institutional services and toward community ones, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/217rgtY ).

All states are required to comply with the new regulations. Ohio faced a 2019 deadline to implement the rules or potentially lose federal funding, which covers 60 percent of all funds spent on programs for the disabled and seniors.

Federal officials are pushing states to get people who are on waiver programs out of institutional-style settings and into treatment, day care and jobs in the community. Those rules don’t apply to those currently in institutions. The new requirements also affect people receiving other Medicaid services and senior citizens.

“We are going to be looking to see if everybody being served is given the opportunity and choice to be fully involved in their community,” said John Martin, director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. “The big difference is going to be we will ask what kind of opportunities there are to be more involved in the community.”

Caroline Lahrmann, of the Disability Advocacy Alliance, said families are concerned that the state is overreacting to the new regulations and that changes to the program should be based on the best outcome for clients — not just the setting in which services are delivered.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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