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PAR Supports Call For Improving State Department of Public Welfare
PAR applauded Wednesday a call by Tim Costa, Executive Deputy Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), to improve the agency’s operations from programs that serve people with intellectual disabilities (ID).
PAR, which represents Pennsylvania organizations that provide services to people with intellectual disabilities and autism in over 7,900 locations, said it is ready to partner with DPW to ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent and people with disabilities are well-served.
State Senator Pat Vance called the hearing on Wednesday to gather information from DPW about its policies and procedures in working with providers of services for people with intellectual disabilities and to ascertain where any waste, fraud or abuse might be in the system.
Speaking to the Senate Committee about cost overruns in the program, Costa said that the past two years have been a “chaotic and unpredictable transition” to bring the Department in line with federal Medicaid requirements – a necessity since Medicaid funding provides over half of the $2B needed to provide ID services in Pennsylvania.
Rules have been complex and have kept changing; this has been confusing for providers and the state department. Costa said the state department had been lax in developing clear regulations and he vowed to put them in place.
Costa also raised the issue of executive compensation as a concern about how state dollars are spent within the service provider system. PAR notes that for more than two decades there has been a cap on how much the state will participate in executive compensation. In addition to this restriction of state dollars, the IRS sets very strict guidelines for executive compensation in nonprofit organizations (the vast majority of ID service providers in Pennsylvania are nonprofits).
In response to allegations, PAR has contacted DPW requesting details on any problems. PAR assured DPW and the Legislature that the association and its members have policies and are committed to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. President and CEO Shirley Walker noted that, “PAR expects the highest accountability and responsibility among service providers. Additionally, many providers that belong to the association also have internal corporate compliance programs to ensure the integrity of their programs.”
PAR applauds Senator Vance’s initiative, and supports DPW’s commitment to the ID program and their candor in announcing the state system needs to run more efficiently and better partner with providers who are meeting the needs of thousands of people with intellectual disabilities throughout the Commonwealth.
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PAR, Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities, is a statewide 501c3 nonprofit association that represents the majority of intellectual disability services and supports in Pennsylvania. PAR members provide the full range of supports and services to more than 51,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities including 8,000 people living with autism, and employ 31,000 Pennsylvanians in over 7,900 locations in the Commonwealth. For more information, visit www.par.net.