Thursday, May 28, 2009

Last Night's Meeting

I went to the meeting last night, and this time my husband was in tow, since he is a CPA he had another interesting perspective on what isn't being done, brought out things that were not known and things that have not been considered in the proposed Family Cost Policy.

  • There has been no study as to how much money will be brought in, nobody how knows how many families will be effected or if the state can even bring enough money to make this worth it
  • The policy states they use an AZ tax return to calculate your income for the program, but what they don't realize is that these returns cap the amount of losses you are allowed to report on them. For instance, you could have over a million dollars in investment losses, but you are only allowed to report $3000 of it on your return
  • They have not looked at any other avenues or means of calculating someone's income, they have not looked at county or federal programs equations, or even private industry (like the mortgage industry to calculate income vs debt ratio).
  • There is no accurate way to inform families how much they will wind up having to pay in the long run
  • They need to do a study to see if it is even feasible, it did not seem like they had plans to do so
  • In the policy it stated that if parents don't pay, then they refer it to a department within the state that will start a collections process, which means that parent's wages can be garnished, tax returns withheld etc. (they did state that this was not supposed to happen, but I'm not sure what they expect when you refer these situations to that department, do they expect that they would have the paperwork just sit there?) but funny, the policy doesn't mention this at all. If it did I can tell you it could be a huge deterrent for parents, especially in times where our job situations and structures are so fragile, why would you even think of agreeing to something like that or have something hanging like that over your head? It's ridiculous
  • They seem to expect that service coordinators will collect the financial data. As a former Social Worker, I can tell you right now that is out of their scope of practice, Social Workers and Educators are not accountants, if they wanted to be accountants for the most part, they would be accountants, it pays better. I can only speak for myself, but I can tell you one of the reasons I was drawn to the Social Work profession in the first place was because of my LACK of aptitude for accounting and numbers. I asked if there were aware of any service coordinators that had financial or accounting experience in their background, the answer was no.
  • There was also the fact of discussing how the info would be collected and transported, service coordinators do their paperwork by hand, does that mean they sit there with a calculator? Do they take a copy of your tax return, put it in a file in their car and drive it around all day until they come back to the office? What about coordinators that work from home? That hasn't been answered yet.
  • The policy states that parents are supposed to have an idea of the cost (or at least know the percentage they will be responsible for) before they sign an IFSP, how can that be possible, especially when there is a waiting list for services, nobody knows how long it will take to put thing in place, and different providers can charge different rates? What if you move? Different geographic areas have different rates.
  • If children are on AHCCCS they will provide their services instead of AZEIP or DDD. I asked if all providers were able to bill AHCCCS, not all AZEIP providers are contracted with AHCCCS, the answer was to just get another provider or help your current provider contract with them! WHY IS THAT OUR ROLE? NOT ALL PARENTS EVEN KNOW WHAT THIS STUFF MEANS BUT ARE SUPPOSED TO TELL OUR PROVIDERS WHO TO CONTRACT WITH? What about continuity of care? That would be out the window too.
  • There does not seem to be any planned outreach to providers to assist in the process of transitioning to working with AHCCCS instead of AZEIP or DDD.

Of course I asked if someone was responsible for 100% of the state's cost, why would they bother being in the program? They told me that they would get service coordination and support for free.

GREAT! They will coordinate services that families will not be receiving because they can't afford to be or aren't able to participate in the program! Good for them! Let's document how far behind these children get because of a lack of services, it will give parents some ammunition if they want to sue the state later. BRILLIANT!

Wait? How can you coordinate services if there aren't any services to coordinate?

Darned if I know!

PLEASE PLEASE if you live in the Tucson area attend tonight's meeting:

May 28, 2009 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Himmel Park Branch Library Meeting Room 1035 N. Treat Avenue Tucson, AZ

I won't be traveling to Tucson to be there (as fun as it would be to travel with a 20 month old in the car for 3 hours to go a meeting and back again) but I would love for someone who can go to send me the info on the meeting, any updates and let me know how it went, I will be more than happy to post it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hearing Reminder, in Phoenix Today from 4PM to 6PM

I was on vacation, so I apologize that I didn't get a chance to post the reminder sooner, the hearing about the proposed changes to the AZEIP program in regards to family cost participation will be held today starting at 4PM in the Yucca Library Meeting Room 5648 N. 15th Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85015

PLEASE PLEASE try to attend this meeting and make your comments, there were very few parents at the last one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ACTION ALERT: Latest Statement on AZEIP Services

DES has the following posted in tiny print on the right side of their homepage screen, I was looking for it and almost missed it, I don't think it is an accident it is so small:

Early Intervention UPDATE The Department of Economic Security will not reduce early intervention services to eligible children from birth to age 3 and their families in state fiscal year 2009 (July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009) as a result of Senate Bill 1001.

While this seems like it might be good news it is not because they do not answer the question of WHAT HAPPENS AFTER JUNE 30? ARE SERVICES GOING TO CONTINUE AFTER JULY 1?

Another issue, why are they not sending this statement out in the mail? They have no problems in sending out letters that clearly violate the law and our civil rights but all of a sudden they have a problem sending out letters RESTORING WHAT IS LEGALLY OURS TO BEGIN WITH? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Now that I think about it, maybe they don't want us to call and complain to the Department of Education again, because, I'm sure they cannot tell us or are not supposed to tell us us that our services are going to be limited or imply they might cut them off again, maybe this statement in and of itself is not something they are supposed to even put out there to begin with, which is why they are not making more of an effort to inform us.

Has anyone else noticed this or been told about it?

I can't stress enough the importance of the due process hearings, if nothing else to make our voices heard.

I think everyone needs to either contact AZEIP, DDD, DES or their Case Manager and ask the question of what is going to happen to our services on July 1, I know I will, and I will be more than happy to post the answers. If anyone has a story about how they lost services as a result of this fiasco, or the harm and distress it has caused you or your loved ones, I will be happy to post that too, feel free to email me at

Povider Rates

I was just told by one of my providers that she recieved a notice that the state is cutting provider rates by 10% again, I'm not too sure if this is even legal, I know that one of the previous documents that I have read requires the state to do some sort of study and determine if the cuts are reasonable and won't provide an undue hardship on providers, who wants to be that this didn't happen?

If I were one of the providers, I would be calling the Department of Special Ed and try to file a formal complaint. Anyone else hear anything like this? If someone has a copy of the notice or the regulation I will be happy to post it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Services Are Not "Safe" Yet

I have been getting some info from parents that some case managers are stating to families that their services are "safe" for now, and as a result families are cancelling their due process hearings, in fact quite a few due process hearings have been cancelled since the injunction was put into place. You might want to reinstate the due process hearing if you can since the injunction has been lifted, contact AZEIP and find out what you need to do, feel free to send me the info you get and I will post it for other parents to see.

I would HIGHLY recommend that we go through with them anyway, I would like to see us officially document what has been happening. There is also the possibility that they could attempt to drop services again, especially since the injunction stopping them was lifted. It isn't clear if we would have to go through the whole process of sending in letters again, or how long it would take.

Personally, I would not believe anything without documentation, if someone tells you that your services will stay in place with out due process, ask them for how long and then get it in writing from them, if they won't give it to you in writing, then chances are pretty strong it is not official, if it is official and sanctioned, sending out a letter to you should not be a problem for them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

If you Want to Email Me...

I have had a lot of specific questions, and for some reason, I either can't post an email link or I just can't find it on blogger, so I created a hotmail account if anyone wants to get in touch with me. The address is:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jumping off a Bridge...

Sorry it took me time to post this, we had a busy weekend, but I did go to the hearing on the proposed family cost sharing. It was a little unsettling. I asked several questions, and feel uneasy about the answers I have received.

I asked how the state plans to meet the EPSDT requirements for children on AHCCCS and DDD if this is instituted, the answer was that AHCCCS would just take over the EPSDT required therapies. I first pointed out that I could not find any documentation in their policy that states this, and asked them to redirect me if I missed it, they didn't. I also asked what the transition plan would be for the children migrating their services to AHCCCS, it turns out there isn't one. Disturbing to say the least. I asked if they expected parents to figure this out on their own because I sure couldn't, AHCCCS told me they didn't know what I was talking about when I've called them in the past and asked them to transition services when this all began, they didn't know what I was talking about. They admitted I had a point and were going to "check into it"

I pointed out that there is a lot of rhetoric being discussed by politicians about helping the middle class, and that this is a policy that not only is directed at the middle class, but will burden the middle class exclusively and that isn't appropriate either.

I asked them if they had done a cost benefit analysis and assessed the pros and cons of instituting this program in AZ. The answer I got is that they looked at "other states", some broke even, some lost money, and some gained (not sure there was another option). I asked exactly what states, they couldn't recall all of them, they told me were New Jersey, South Carolina, and Utah to name a few, there were 13 in total. Also being a former Human Resources Professional, I asked them if they specifically looked at ARIZONA. Would the benefits outweigh the costs in ARIZONA. The answer was no, they had not assessed the impact it would have in the state of Arizona. I know from working at multi state companies that you can look at the work, you can look at the time it takes someone to do a task someplace else, but to REALLY REALLY assess the cost of something, you need to take the information of staffing hours, benefits, time off from other tasks, and the extra time it takes to do those tasks as well as the new ones in addition to the time effort and dollars to get something like this running (training staff, updating providers, extra time spent with families by staff, extra time staff has to take to be on the phone explaining things to a number of people) not to mention handling any legal opposition, and plug that into pay and benefits for staff in ARIZONA. We have different demographics, we have different standards of living, we have different geography, we a differently type of system all together, it is unrealistic to think you can just copy what other states are doing and assume it will work for you too. It won't work. Anybody in a corporate environment can tell you that.

Never mind the uneasy possibility that the state is somehow looking to make money off disabled children and their families.

It reminded me of an old saying I constantly heard as a child when I wanted to do what the "other kids" were doing.

"If you're friends wanted to jump off a bridge without looking down would you do it too?"

I have the uneasy feeling the state is wanting to jump off that bridge without looking down, just because the other states are doing it too.

"Stay Put" Hearing Set for May 20th

In the case of Zoe vs Blessing, a stay put hearing has been scheduled for May 20th, if granted, it would have a similar effect as the injunction which would basically mean that DES would be forced by the court to continue services. For more info you can go to the following link on the AZ Center for Disablity Law's discussion website:

AZ Central Article this AM on Budget Cuts

Here is a link to another article from the AZ Republic this AM

I think we should also contact the Representative quoted in the article and let him know what we think of his stance on this issue.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Meeting Reminder: Speak Out On Changes for AZEIP May 8th in Phoenix

There is a "Public Notice" posted on their site in regards to an application of funds and changes to the AZEIP program that they want to institute. The link to the site is here:

One of my concerns is still their proposed "Family Cost Participation Policy" it goes as follows: AzEIP will institute a Family Cost Participation (FCP), this would require that families whose children receive services from AzEIP and DDD (but not ASDB) families making over 200% of the federal poverty level will pay 15% of the costs of their child's services (therapies, not service coordination, evaluations/assessments or IFSP development) and then it will increase by 5% to 100% of the costs.

I don't really know where we would fit in all of this, but I find it disturbing to say the least. I looked through the policy, it just says that they somehow use your tax return and a calculation (with no real detail) as to how they determine your income. It doesn't discuss whether or not they fit your expenses into the equation, or what happens if you can't pay, or what your and your child's rights are if you can't pay. It also does not mention how those with private insurance fit into their little equation either.Then there is the phrase "and then it will increase by 5% to 100% of the costs" Huh? How often does it increase, how do they decide the interval of the increase, how do they determine whether or not it increases? Where does private insurance fit in? How do they fit your medical expenses in?

I sent them an email with those questions, and surprise of surprises, nobody bothered to respond.

There is nothing indicating any tax breaks or implications either, would these services qualify as a deduction? Who knows?Here is link to some info I was able to find on the Federal Poverty Line they they are thinking of using:

I would encourage everyone that is able to attend the hearing in Phoenix and speak out on these changes. The info is as follows:

Phoenix May 8, 2009
2:30-3:30 p.m.AZ DOT – HRDC Grand Canyon Rooms 1&2 1130 N. 22nd Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85009

I plan on attending, and bringing my son since it is during the day I don't have a sitter, but I think this is important, and I figure they should have made it after business hours if they didn't want us to bring our children, it should be interesting to say the least.

Friday, May 1, 2009

How to Make Sure You Still Have Services - Keep Up With Due Process Hearings

I just wanted to add a blurb about the importance of the due process hearings again. I've heard that a number of parents choose to cancel them due to services remaining in place because of the injunction (that and some of the phone calls AZEIP made which gave some parents a false sense of security that their services would remain in place)

If you don't know if you still are supposed to have a hearing, call AZEIP and find out, if not find out what you need to do to get the ball rolling again. Remember, according to the books, services have to stay in place until the hearing, and if scheduling is going the way mine is (it has been over 60 days) services could remain in place for a while.

Some Hope From Arizona Center for Disability Law

Here is a recent statement from AZ Center for Disablity law that was posted on their site today:

Yesterday, in Arizona Association of Providers for Persons with Disabilities (AAPPD) v. State of Arizona, the Arizona Court of Appeals overturned a preliminary injunction issued by the Maricopa County Superior Court. This injunction stopped cuts to state-only DDD services and halted a 10% rate reduction for DDD home and community based service providers. These cuts to rates and services were made by the Department of Economic Security in an attempt to close its budget shortfall caused by Arizona’s budget deficit.

The Court of Appeals held that, while Plaintiffs had shown that they may be harmed by the cuts, they failed to raise serious legal questions that would justify the injunction. The Court found that it is unlikely AAPPD will be able to show that the state violated any state or federal law by imposing the service cuts and rate reductions. The Arizona Center for Disability Law filed a declaration and amicus brief in support of this lawsuit.

The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the Maricopa County Superior Court for a ruling on the merits of the lawsuit. AAPPD has indicated that it will appeal the decision to dismiss the injunction to the Arizona Supreme Court.

The action taken by the Arizona Court of Appeals is related only to the lawsuit filed by AAPPD, not class actions filed by the Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL), such as Ball v. Rodgers (Medicaid-funded home and community based services) or Zoe M. v. Blessing (violations of federal IDEA Part C).

Jennifer Nye, ACDL staff attorney, commented to the press, “We know that thousands of adults and children with disabilities are going to be harmed by these cuts in services and rates. We feel it is also very short-sighted of the state to balance its budget on the back of its most vulnerable population.”

ACDL will continue to provide support to the lawyers representing AAPPD as they move forward with their lawsuit

Here is a link to their site for more updates:

-It is unclear what the state is going to do next, they have not updated their site with any recent info as of yet. It is also unclear if the injunction is going to stay in place while AAPPD appeals the decision, I think it is supposed to, but it's hard because nobody seems to know what the state is going do just yet. It would make sense to keep services in place pending the outcome of the appeal, and the other suit as well. We'll see I will keep posting as soon as I get more info.

The Court has Granted the State's Appeal

If the AZ Republic is accurate, it looks like the State court has granted the State's appeal to remove the injunction, no word yet as to how this is going to effect things or what is happening, I will do some research and keep everyone posted, there are some other lawsuits in place that might also effect services. Here is a link to the article:

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for my due process hearing, it is almost 60 days since my request, 30 days overdue. My advice for now is to not panic just yet, wait for some more info to come out, and if you have requested a hearing and it has not been scheduled, call and check on the status of it. If services are removed again, and no hearings scheduled even though you applied for due process, try contacting the Department of Education Civil Rights Division, they might let you file a civil rights complaint. You can find contact info here:

I'm not sure if these judges are elected or not, if they are I personally am going to try to find out their names, and actively campaign against their relection for the next term, most people don't pay attention to their names on the ballots, I will make sure they do this time if this is the case, if they are going to make these decisions, then they should be held accountable and loose their positions because this is definelty not the will of the general public that put them there.

Maybe we should organize another protest either in front of the courthouse or in front of the Governor's office instead of the Capital building, any ideas?