Nine local agencies – including Heritage Christian Services and Lifetime Assistance, Inc.– are drawing the attention of state leaders by working together to study changes in how Medicaid will deliver and pay for services for people with disabilities.
Lawmakers throughout the state are struggling to make Medicaid self-sustaining, and the coalition of local agencies, called Person Centered Services of Western New York, has invested time, intellectual capital and financial resources in being part of the solution.
Eventually the group may apply to be one of a handful of state-designated managed care organizations, which means that other agencies in Western New York would contract with PCSWNY to offer services instead of working through the state. Such changes are meant to shift away from one-size-fits-all care and move toward more customized options for people.
“This is a crucial step in advancing the Medicaid waiver redesign for people with developmental disabilities,” said Marisa Geitner, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Heritage Christian Services, which is piloting a new “universal needs assessment tool” for the state along with a new program for documenting the services that have been delivered. “We really want to learn as much as we can and then advocate and shape the system so people with disabilities are always treated with dignity and compassion. We’ve got to all be partners in this transition.”
Since the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities recently realigned its regions, some agencies find themselves working with partners in new geographic areas. The nine agencies that make up Person-Centered Services, for example, span both the Rochester and Buffalo areas.
The new 17-county region – and the partnerships – makes sense for an agency like Heritage Christian Services, which has significant operations in Rochester and Buffalo, said Geitner, adding that PCSWNY has held public information meetings in both cities.
Lifetime Assistance, which offers comprehensive services in the region, wants to protect and advance services throughout Western New York, said James Branciforte, president of the agency.
“Forward-thinking agencies need to be out front of the massive public policy changes that will occur in the next three to five years,” he said. “And Person Centered Services is demonstrating the leadership needed to assure the highest quality services for our neighbors with developmental disabilities."
It’s not too late for others to be involved, he added. Those who are interested can view a PowerPoint presentation at www.pcswny.com and learn more about the nine founding agencies.