Saturday, September 1, 2018
By JUSTIN DENNIS
William Whitacre, Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities superintendent, said Thursday the board has finalized lease terms allowing the private nonprofit MASCO Inc. to operate the board’s Meshel Workshop for adults along Marwood Circle in Boardman.
Mahoning County commissioners approved the agreement during a Thursday morning meeting at the OSU Mahoning County Extension office in Canfield. MASCO, the Mahoning Adult Services Co., and the county DD board have also agreed to the terms, but the deal has yet to be inked.
Whitacre said MASCO will rent the property at 160 Marwood Circle – a former roller rink renovated in the 1980s – from the county for $5,000 per month while the county will maintain and repair the structure, utilities such as HVAC systems and parking lot.
Mahoning County will continue to operate the DD board’s Centre facility along Javit Court in Austintown, Whitacre said.
County DD boards across the state have been working to hand off facilities offering Medicaid-funded services such as adult workshops to private providers before 2024, as mandated by the state following a rule change that now barring entities that approve Medicaid services from also providing them.
Mahoning County’s transition began years ago. Statewide, the majority of county DD boards have completed the process, Whitacre said.
MASCO, established nearly 50 years ago as the employer-of-record for the adult workshop employees, will soon be responsible for all daily expenses and operations at the Meshel facility, and the transition is now in the final stages, Whitacre said.
“Really, what we’re hoping is there is no change for the individuals receiving the service,” he said. “The agencies providing the services – the funds are still there. We accepted Medicaid dollars to provide the services.”
The county DD board will continue to pay its 40 percent match for services paid through Medicaid waivers. As employee downsizing continues at the county department, those waiver expenses are expected to become the department’s largest expense, Whitacre said.
Whitacre said 26 former DD board employees have received layoff notices due to the transition. Others retired.
Philip Miller, MASCO chief executive officer, said the nonprofit has re-hired about 12 former DD board employees, and hired about another 12 new employees. The nonprofit has invited parents and caregivers to meet them.
Miller said the DD board has not accepted new Medicaid consumers since June 2015 – as part of mandated downsizing ahead of the transition – but those who left for other providers can now return to the county-owned system under MASCO.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep things the same,” he said. “A lot of attention has been paid to that in two-plus years of planning and preparation.
“People are going to walk in that day, and they’re going to know people, they’re going to have familiar faces.”