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HVI operates as a 501-C3 non-profit

The Logan Daily News - 1/6/2018

NOTE: This story first published Aug. 8, 2017 in The Logan Daily News.

LOGAN - For the most part, the transition between the Hocking County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Hocking Valley Industries is complete - however, HVI still depends on HCBDD for minor things such as help with the building maintenance and other small items.

As of July 1, HVI is separate from HCBDD and is still a 501-C3 non-profit organization that continues to provide various opportunities to individuals who request services. HVI is no longer considered a "county" facility; it is a private non-profit organization.

"The most important thing is we want people to know that we are still here, we're still providing services and offering all the same services we had prior to the separation in July," stated HVI Executive Director Amber Spencer.

"The reason we privatized is not by any of our choices - it's mandated now by the state," added HVI Board President Mike Kindinger. "We're still a non-profit, nothing has changed in that way."

Knowing that there were major changes coming, HVI and HCBDD started preparing for the transition into two separate entities approximately two years ago. The news to separate the two entities came at the heels of federal mandated rules that state - the Medicaid rule of Conflict-Free Case Management and services are unable to be provided by the same company as the one responsible for the development of a person's individual service plan.

Upon receiving the news of the mandated rules, the two entities (HVI and HCBDD) immediately began devising a plan to transition and collaborated on how to separate and still maintain the integrity of both agencies without disrupting any of the services and the everyday flow of the agencies.

There have been some minor changes including employees, but the biggest change is the funding. HVI still operates as a non-profit; however, HVI is now responsible for billing Medicaid for the services they provide.

"Although we have separated, we are still a non-profit," Kindinger added. "The monies from the levies that were passed were never earmarked for HVI - they're separate and distributed among all of the providers in Hocking County."

HVI provides services for approximately 80 people in different capacities, according to Spencer. These individuals may not all be at HVI on a daily basis, but each receives at least one service provided by HVI.

Through the transition, as a private provider, HVI can provide other options and an array of services including vocational rehabilitation, community employment, career planning, homemaker personal care, transportation and additional community involvement.

"One of the reasons the transition went so smoothly and unnoticed is because Amber and Ron (Spung) have been working for almost two or three years to come up with a plan for the changeover," Kindinger said. "We wanted it to be a seamless transition."

HCBDD Superintendent David Couch told The Logan Daily News, that the transition isn't something normally done in the field of developmental disabilities; however, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the two entities to become stand alone businesses.

In 1990 the American Disabilities Act was passed, which is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life such as jobs, schools, transportation and all private and public places open to the general public.

Couch noted that the Department of Justice is currently traveling the country to ensure that the Americans Disabilities Act is being upheld and implemented, and that individuals have opportunities to integrate with their communities.

Also in 1991, the State of Ohio entered into an agreement with Medicaid for developmental disabilities services. Recently, county boards were informed that funding for institutional programs under the direction of the board would no longer be available, although they were welcome to continue.

With this in mind, the boards began to organize a plan that would allow the programs to continue, without the additional strain of providing the funding without help from the Medicaid waivers.

By privatizing, Hocking Valley Industries has the ability to bill expenses to Medicaid through the waiver program and continue the programs they currently offer. In preparation, HVI has gradually taken on more responsibilities by billing Medicaid for expenses, updating their operating plans, and hiring some new staff.

In speaking with staff members and those attending HVI, most didn't notice any changes during the transition, which has benefited administration with the process.

For more information on HVI, services or the transition, contact Spencer at 740-385-2118.


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