Jul 11, 2009

APD Tier Rule Workshop

By Deborah Linton

I wanted to take a day to think about what took place at the proposed APD Tier Rule workshop that took place in Tallahassee on Thursday July 9th 2009. There were several individuals that attended but only 14 people registered to speak. APD had Cathy Bedell, one of their attorneys and Lorena Fulcher a staff member at the front of the room to answer questions. (If you have ever attended one of these public workshops or hearings, you know that they do not normally answer questions or respond to comments.)

Two self advocates spoke about their loss of dental services by virtue of their placement in Tier 4. (These two individuals are members of Arc of Florida's self advocacy group. We have been faciliatating their inclusion on various state task forces and committees but they were not led in anyway by us as to what they wanted to say.) Some of the other speakers were from Three Rivers Legal Aid, North Florida Legal Aid and the Advocacy Center for Persons With Disabilties. Almost all speakers highlighted the fact that the provisions of the Tier statute had been exceeded when it came to restricting people in Tier placements. I spoke a few words highlighting our overall concerns with the proposed language and impact it would have on individuals and asked that APD act as The Agency FOR Persons With Disabilities when it came to implementing laws.

Ms. Megan Walls, (the attorney from Jacksonville/St. Johns area legal aid office that has never lost a fair hearing) was the last speaker. Ms. Walls clarified many of the issues regarding Tier Placements and the unfairness of the fair hearing process. She made many points about the "off the record" rules of how people are denied services in the Tier system. Ms. Walls highlighted the fact that in each District Court of Appeals in the State as well as in the Federal Court a complaint has been file regarding the denial of due process by the Agency for Persons With Disabilities. Ms. Walls was a very dynamic speaker to say the least.

The comments/complaints made yesterday become part of the permanent file in regards to this proposed rule. I do not know what impact they will have. However, there are two more hearings left in the State. I encourage you and the families you serve to attend and make your voices heard!

Email comments about this story to - dlintonarc@gmail.com