The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) today extended its thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis and its disability partners for their efforts to support people with disabilities and protect our state’s most vulnerable residents and their families during 2021.
APD was able to achieve noteworthy milestones that benefited APD customers during 2021, serving more than 58,000 Floridians with severe forms of autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome.
APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “The Agency for Persons with Disabilities was able to do great things in 2021 in support of its mission of protecting the health and safety of our more than 58,000 customers. I thank Governor DeSantis for his dynamic leadership in support of individuals with developmental disabilities, as well as the devotion of our outstanding employees, Waiver Support Coordinators, and providers. As we work together to meet the needs of our customers, we are enhancing their quality of life while always looking for more opportunities for them to accomplish their goals.”
In keeping with Governor DeSantis’ priority to support our state’s most vulnerable citizens, APD continues to serve our customers, families, stakeholders, providers, and employees. The following are accomplishments during 2021:
Historic Funding to Serve Floridians with Disabilities
- In response to the need for services for individuals with developmental disabilities, Governor DeSantis approved an historic $95 million in the 2021-2022 budget for APD to enroll approximately 1,900 people on the waiting list who are in Categories 1 through 5. APD began sending offers for waiver enrollment in July 2021. As of December 1, 2021, APD has sent offers to 867 clients and APD has enrolled 751 individuals from the waiting list who were in Categories 1 through 5.
- During 2021, APD enrolled an additional 381 Floridians with developmental disabilities into our Consumer-Directed Care Plus (CDC+) program reaching 4,108 enrollees. APD’s CDC+ program is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive self-directed program for individuals with developmental disabilities. This program allows iBudget Florida waiver customers to receive a monthly budget to directly hire workers and vendors to help with daily care needs, such as personal care, respite, and transportation.
Supporting Individuals with Disabilities Finding Independence Through the Workforce
- APD has received funding for the Employment Enhancement Program (EEP) for nine years to help clients on the waiver waiting list obtain jobs and internships. In FY 2020-21, EEP assisted 303 individuals to maintain their jobs and helped 93 clients on the waiting list obtain competitive employment, and 11 people secure internships. APD partners with schools, families, and providers to assist clients in achieving employment goals. Services funded through EEP include supported employment coaching, follow-along services, paid internships, transportation, personal assistance, and other added supports and services.
Improving Transparency and Accountability for Services for Floridians with Disabilities
- Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Senate Bill 82 was signed into law in 2020 and has resulted in increased accountability and quality of waiver support coordination service in Florida. It has enabled APD to increase efficiencies, streamline processes, and make changes to how APD delivers home and community-based services through its iBudget Florida waiver to Floridians with disabilities. Some of the major accomplishments of this initiative include:
- Reforming Waiver Support Coordination, including requiring all Waiver Support Coordinators (WSCs) to be members of a provider organization and revising duties for APD relating to WSCs: The requirement for all WSCs to be members of a qualified organization replaced the previous system that allowed any qualified individual to independently enroll as a treating provider in the Medicaid program. This change enabled APD to implement a systematic approach to service oversight for persons providing care to individuals with developmental disabilities.
- Requiring WSCs to enhance their professional skills: The requirements for APD-approved training, professional development, competency-based assessment, and mentoring programs ensures that waiver support coordinators have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to competently provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities.
- APD developed a WSC scorecard to enable self-advocates and their families to make informed decisions in the WSC selection process.
- Streamlining and centralizing the Significant Additional Needs process: This change ensures that individuals receive services that are medically necessary in accordance with state and federal Medicaid regulations. This means that when an individual requests an increase to their iBudget Florida waiver funding, it is reviewed by employees in the APD State Office who have received extensive training and education in reviewing the specific needs of the individual and applying rule-based criteria to ensure individuals receive all of the medically necessary services they require to be able to live in their communities.
- The APD iConnect Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) system began implementation in late 2020 and was fully implemented in 2021. As 2021 draws to a close, nearly 400,000 service visits have been completed with geo-location tracking. The development and implementation of the APD iConnect EVV system is in accord with the 21st Century Cures Act, which is intended to reduce the risk of fraud. Thus, ensuring that consumers will actually receive the services deemed medically necessary and funded via Medicaid dollars.
- There are 1,337 active WSCs using APD iConnect and more than 1,500 provider organizations, which results in more than 10,000 individual provider employees using iConnect.
APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 55,000 Floridians with disabilities. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1‑866‑APD‑CARES (1‑866‑273‑2273).