TRUMBULL COUNTY Tentative decision keeps MRDD providing services

Services will remain unchanged through Dec. 31.
NILES -- Trumbull County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities will continue to provide services to four intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded after a change in federal funding starting Friday.
The funding change will give federal Medicaid money which used to go to the MRDD directly to the intermediate care facilities. The facilities can decide whether to keep the money and provide the services themselves, or contract with other providers.
Fairhaven superintendent Douglas A. Burkhardt, Ph.D., announced Monday evening that contracts are in the works with Orange Village Care Center, the Enrichment Center, Youngstown Developmental Center and Boyd's Kinsman Home.
"All four have tentatively decided to let MRDD do the care, but one only for 90 days," he said.
Orange Village Care Center and the Enrichment Center have agreed to a pay MRDD $48.75 per day, per person for the care provided by MRDD's Fairhaven Programs from July 1 through Dec. 31.
Orange Village sends 52 people to the Fairhaven Program and the Enrichment Center sends 47.
Youngstown Developmental Program is a state-operated program, so its contract is slightly different, Burkhardt said. It has agreed to pay $106.04 per day, per person, for the period from July 1 through Dec. 31. MRDD pays 40 percent back to the state.
Boyd's Kinsman Home is interested in a 90-day contract, Burkhardt said. It will pay $48.75 per day, per person, July 1 through Sept. 30. A letter sent to Burkhardt from Boyd's Kinsman Home's legal counsel said "Boyd's shall explore other possibilities for the provision of adult services" during the contract.
Fairhaven Program costs are $106 per person per day, Burkhardt said. Under the old federal funding, the federal government paid $60 and MRDD paid $40. With the new funding, MRDD is getting only $48.75.
"That's a difference of almost $12. It's a lot when you're counting every penny," he said.
A change in federal funding and the rejection of a 10-year replacement levy that will be on the ballot this year, would threaten nearly 50 percent of MRDD's annual income. But Burkhardt says he is committed to continuing services.
However, a severe loss in funding could result in layoffs and diminished services. The board authorized Burkhardt to determine and notify those employees who would be affected by layoffs if the levy does not pass in November; this would facilitate the layoffs taking affect as soon as possible after November's vote.
"This hopefully won't be necessary, but the economics of it are if it's necessary, the sooner after the election the better," he said.
The replacement levy on the ballot this November will be 2.25 mills; it combines a 0.35 mills levy first passed in 1976 and a 1.9 mills levy passed in 1990.
The old federal funding and the levy account for almost $9 million dollars annually. MRDD's annual budget is $18 million.

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