With the creation of the Ron Yost Personal Assistance Services Program in 1999 the Legislature intended to increase the availability of personal assistance services for persons with severe disabilities, allowing them the choice of living in their own homes and communities. This is the first preliminary performance review of the program and two issues are identified.
Issue 1: The Ron Yost Personal Assistance Services Program Is Not Designed to Increase Availability of the Service as Intended by Law.
The Legislature intended the Ron Yost Personal Assistance Services Program to increase the availability of personal assistance services. In order to increase the availability of personal assistance services, the program should be designed to provide services to individuals who are ineligible for or are not receiving services from other programs. If the program is providing what is currently available, then it is substituting not increasing the availability of services. Currently, the Ron Yost Program provides services to individuals without determining if they are eligible to receive the service from another program. It is known that one of the twenty-three individuals on the program is eligible for Medicaid, and it is likely that many, if not all of the recipients, are eligible for services through another program. Potentially, individuals who are ineligible to receive services through other programs may be denied Ron Yost services because those limited funds are used to provide services to individuals who are eligible for the service through another program. As of April 2001, 24 individuals were placed on a waiting list for Ron Yost services. Another result is the state pays more to provide personal assistance services through this Program than if the services were obtained through Medicaid with the approximately 75% federal match. If every Ron Yost recipient is eligible for Medicaid then the services have cost the state an estimated $233,000 more than if they were provided through Medicaid.
Issue 2: There is No Assurance that Recipients Comply with Employment Laws as Required by Law.
Since the intent of the legislation is to have recipients assume the responsibility of being an employer of personal assistants, the program as administered by the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) is to assure that recipients carry out the duties of being employers, including compliance with employment related laws. Currently, the program is not designed to assure that recipients are in compliance with employment laws. The immediate effect is that recipients could be faced with substantial tax liabilities, personal assistants may not have appropriate coverage for workers' compensation or unemployment compensation, and fraudulent use of funds may go undetected.