2016-03-09 / Front Page

Controversial DHHS proposal tabled

Advocates for adults with disabilities laud decision
Times Record Staff


A proposed rule change that opponents said may have cut funding for adults with disabilities has been withdrawn.

According to a press release from the Maine Legislature House Democratic Office, dozens spoke out Monday in opposition to the Supports Intensity Scale, which would have tested and placed adults with varying levels of need into three funding tiers.

The SIS was an attempt to replace the current person-centered planning the state uses in conjunction with family members and medical professionals.

Under the SIS, adults with disabilities would be tested in their current setting — a snapshot of how they are doing in a short-term situation.

Opponents to the rule change said the SIS would have not taken into account ease and familiarity with the person’s surroundings in the moment or possible changes in schedule, staff or treatments.

The change had been proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Families that would have been affected by the SIS petitioned DHHS, requesting a formal review of the rule change, gathering 268 physical signatures and 1,308 signatures online.

The Health and Human Services Committee decided in a bipartisan 9-4 vote to review the rule change.

The Independence Association in Brunswick has been actively working against implementation of the SIS since July 2015.

“We at IA are very happy that the state chose to make the decision to take the SIS off of the table and we look forward to working with the state, other organizations and the families throughout the state to come up with a way to fund services for individuals with disabilities based on their needs,” said IA Director of Development and Communications Dennis St. Pierre.

St. Pierre said that now is the time to feel good about this accomplishment.

“We are grateful that the state took notice and listened,” St. Pierre said. “Now is the time to work together and help all parties concerned.”

St. Pierre said the Independence Association recognizes that the state’s tax base is shrinking and there exists real funding difficulties. He said his organization is prepared to address those difficulties and provide suggestions for the Office of Aging and Disabilities Services through the Legislature.

“We believe we can better help the state by being involved in the process,” St. Pierre said. “We too are facing fiscal struggles similar to other industries and we are looking at the root cause of our problems. We need to design a strategy that is best for our families and the people they love and we serve. We need to continue to advocate and work with our state to best serve everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us.”


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