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Disabilities revamp gets Senate approval

The measure lacks a house companion.

The Senate on Friday agreed to tee up for final passage a proposal (SB 82) that would redesign part of the state’s iBudget program for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

With a week left before the scheduled end of the legislative session, the House does not have a companion version of the proposal, which has been a priority for Senate President Bill Galvano. The Senate took up the bill Friday and approved a change that narrowed a “certificate of need” exemption that would allow 24 new institutional beds for people with disabilities to be brought online every two years.

The so-called CON process typically requires state approval before new facilities can be built. The Senate amended the bill to make clear that the exemption would expire on July 1, 2022, unless the Legislature agrees to continue the policy.

The amendment also makes clear that only three exemptions could be granted and that the exemptions would generally expire 18 months after approval. Sunrise Community, Inc., a non-profit organization headquartered in Miami, is pushing for the CON exemption, and it has the support of Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer.

Sunrise in 2018 submitted a CON application to the state Agency for Health Care Administration to open a new $8.1 million intermediate care facility for people with developmental disabilities in what’s known as Region 6, which includes Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee and Polk counties.

The state denied the application because the Legislature had not agreed to fund new beds in the budget, which is a requirement in law. According to a legislative staff analysis, as many as 661 people enrolled in the Medicaid home- and community-based services program known as iBudget would qualify for placement in the new facilities.

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Republished with permission from the News Service of Florida.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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