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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Shore delegation backing WCDC as new regs loom

(Feb. 26, 2015) Worcester County Developmental Center Executive Director Jack Ferry traveled to Annapolis last Friday to speak with the Eastern Shore Delegation about the affect pending federal regulations could have on the center’s operation.
 The Newark center is fighting possible regulations that could compromise its ability and that of similar centers statewide, to assist disabled people with vocational training.
The Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule relating to “Home and Community Based Services Settings for Medicaid-funded long term services” in the Federal Register on Jan. 16.
The rule would bring about several changes to home and community-based waivers, finalizes regulatory changes to the state plan home and community-based services, and imposes new requirements on what is considered an appropriate home/community based residential setting.
Ferry argued that the regulation replaces facility-based employment and training with “community-based activities such as volunteering, recreation and socialization,” and that it painted disabled people “with a broad stroke, which could jeopardize individual choice.”
After meeting with Ferry, the delegation voted unanimously to send a letter of support for the center to Health and Human Services.
District 38C Delegate Mary Beth Carozza said she also sent a letter to DHMH Secretary Van Mitchell on behalf of the center on Feb. 5.
“I have received a response from Secretary Mitchell indicating that no final decisions have been made regarding the future of WCDC,” Carozza said. “I, along with my fellow members of the Eastern Shore delegation, will keep pushing for facility-based employment under the new federal rules so that the WCDC can continue to employ the nearly 700 members of our local community who work there.”
Ferry said he was pleased with the delegation’s response.
“I feel the delegation understands that work, no matter where it is done, allows our clients to use their talents and contribute to the economic vitality of the area,” he said. “Without this work some will have difficulty paying their bills and buying groceries, and others will start to have a variety of issues including mental health concerns.
The state is required to finalize a transition plan to comply with the ruling by March 17. Ferry also contacted Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and Rep. Andy Harris to discuss the issue on a federal level.
“We really need to keep our federal legislators involved in this because … they really are federal issues we are dealing with,” Ferry said.