Hillary Brazzell
Agency for Persons with Disabilities

“iBudget”—is that the latest must-have tech device for accountants? No—it’s what the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is calling its proposed individual budgeting system.

The Legislature asked APD to give them a plan for an individual budgeting system by February 1, 2010. Once APD develops the plan, the agency will give it to the Legislature to see what they think. APD would also need an OK from the federal government to make the plan happen.

APD is developing this plan now, and many things still need to be decided. However, APD wants iBudget Florida to make several changes to the waiver system. It would give each person on the waiver a budget at the beginning of the service selection process, making it easier for waiver recipients to plan services. Each person’s budget would be determined using a mathematical formula which considers his or her specific situation. Another outcome of iBudget Florida would be the elimination of the prior service authorization process. These changes are meant to give people more flexibility in choosing services, more control over their services and would make the system fairer. It’s also meant to make the system more responsive, more sustainable, and simpler for customers, families, waiver support coordinators, and providers.

Because the Legislature wants APD to ask persons with disabilities, their families, service providers, and advocates about how an individual budgeting system should work, the agency held meetings last year around the state to get input about the iBudget from the people who will be affected by it. Additional meetings are scheduled for this year. (Go to www.fddc.org for more information.) Those attending the recent public meetings said they liked the idea of scaling back or even eliminating the prior service authorization process and of having more control over services and more flexibility in how they were used. Others wanted to make sure they could ask for more funds if their needs changed and also discussed the flexible benefit service and the Consumer Directed Care Plus (CDC+) program.

The Legislature told APD that it could offer a flexible benefit service, allowing customers who receive adult day training, respite, companion, in-home supports, supported employment, and/or supported living services to use the funding for these services (minus 8%) to get the flexible benefit service, which “provides meaningful day activities and support within the home.” The plan for this service is being developed now, and APD will be asking for approval from the federal government to offer it.

APD will let customers know when the flexible benefit service is available, likely in Spring or Summer 2010. The CDC+ program is already expanding to serve more people on the waiver who wish to join - up to 2,500 people can join. This program is optional and allows individuals more flexibility in what services they get and who they hire; for instance, they are not required to use Medicaid-enrolled providers. The program also gives consumers and their representatives more responsibility to manage services and pay workers and providers with the help of a fiscal employer agent. Eligible customers enrolled on a waiver should have recently received a letter providing information about how to join CDC+.

Materials from the public meetings will be on APD’s website soon. For more information on CDC+, visit apd.myflorida.com/cdcplus/. You can also find information about iBudget Florida on APD’s website by clicking on http://apd.myflorida.com/ibudget/. Through the APD website, you may give APD your thoughts and ideas for the iBudget Florida plan, and ask questions about the plan.

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