A newly released Florida TaxWatch report says the unfinished software system being developed to administer a Medicaid waiver program used to provide home and community-based services to people with disabilities should be more “examined.”
That report The business-backed state monitoring group notes that the contract is in place with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). I connect system in place was extended three times and that several key elements of the program – including a consumer portal – were not launched or were jettisoned altogether.
APD did not immediately respond to Florida Politics’ request for comment.
That Florida TaxWatch Report released days after APD Director Barbara Palmer announced her resignation, which she said was at the request of her boss, Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Palmer submitted a one-page resignation letter on December 2, accompanied by nine pages of highlights and achievements, including “Implementation of iConnect software system.”
But the iConnect contract — now capped at $9.6 million — remains incomplete. And the report shows there are ongoing problems with what is operating today, findings that reinforce long-standing criticism of the system from facilities serving people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Bradenton businessman Aaron Nagel Is well connected in the developmental disabilities community in Florida and nationwide. Nangle, runs the Waiverprovider.com website and sells iConnect-compatible software that allows support coordinators and vendors to document their efforts.
Around 119,000 people have signed up for one of his newsletters. Nangle told Florida Politics on Wednesday that he was not surprised by TaxWatch’s findings and that the monitoring group interviewed him for the report.
Nangle recalled that waiver support coordinators were the first to use iConnect.
“Most support coordinators are very smart people. They seemed to get it, but they still hated it. It didn’t work right for her,” he said.
But when APD later asked vendors to use the software, it became a “huge mess,” Nangle said.
“Everything went really bad then. That’s when we all decided that this would be the downfall of Barbara Palmer, the APD iConnect program.”
Florida created the Medicaid iBudget Waiver Program with the aim of allowing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live outside of institutions. The waiver allows the state to provide people with disabilities with access to home and community services not traditionally covered by Medicaid, such as: B. Help with bathing, eating and dressing.
Assistance with these activities costs the state less than institutional care and helps keep people with disabilities in communities where they can live, play, and work.
In 2015, the state required iBudget providers to use the iConnect system, and Harmony Information Systems, Inc. (which was later acquired by Mediware Information Systems and then Wellsky, Inc.) was awarded a contract.
The TaxWatch report alleges that service providers and coordinators who help people with disabilities have had difficulties accessing their portal, uploading documents and keeping records. The report adds that helpdesk support is “largely inaccessible and ineffective, as helpdesk staff often do not appear to have the expertise needed to effectively resolve user issues.”
According to the report, in September 2022, the APD eliminated a damage module that was supposed to handle billing of iBudget services. TaxWatch notes that while removing the module “was deemed in the best interest of the project,” state law requires providers to use iConnect for billing.
“I don’t think the state has recognized the value of iConnect yet,” Mark A Swainthe CEO and President of ARC of Alachua County and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Arc of Florida, told Florida Politics ahead of the release of the TaxWatch report.
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