SDC withdraws four units from funding consideration
Loses nearly 39 percent of federal funding
Corcoran is one of four housing units at SDC removed from funding consideration
Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune
In a move aimed at preserving as much of its federal funding as possible, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has withdrawn four living units at Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) from consideration for federal certification.
With this withdrawal, SDC will immediately lose Medicare and Medicaid funding, totaling $1.37 million a month, for the 112 residents who live in those units. That $1.37 million a month represents an immediate loss to the state’s general fund.
SDC has struggled to hold onto federal funding for all the eligible 290 residents who live in its Intermediate Care Facility-Developmental Disabilities (ICF-DD) units since receiving a notice from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Dec. 20 stating that it would be decertified as of Jan. 4 if certain “deficiencies” were not corrected, potentially costing it up to $117,000 a day in federal Medicare and Medicaid funding for its ICF units. The deadline for the decertification passed, though SDC held off a denial of federal funds by filing appeals to both the plan to revoke its state license to operate and the Medicaid certification.
The funding issue concerns only the 290 residents living in ICF units, out of the total population of 517. Of the 10 units in question, four of them are now taken off the table for the purposes of certification and funding. Those four units are Corcoran, Lathrop, Bernis and Smith.
“As a consequence of the removal of the four residential units from the provider agreement, 178 beds within the remaining residential units will continue to be certified for federal financial participation in the operation of the ICF-DD,” DDS Director Terri Delgadillo wrote in a letter to James Farris, consortium administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services dated Jan. 17.
The CDPH confirmed in a prepared statement, that the action by DDS would “permit the continued certification of the remaining six units,” and indicated that the remaining four units would be considered for certification one-by-one.
DDS has also dropped the appeal it filed in December against the revocation of its certification, though it continues to appeal the decision to revoke its state license.
The state and federal actions came in the wake of a series of reports of staff abuses, including an investigation into incidences of stun guns being used on patients in which the FBI became involved and the sexual assault of a resident that led to her pregnancy. A number of unit closures, both related to these incidents and other factors, have led to consolidation in other ICF units, and situations “where we’re not sure we have the right grouping of men and women living together,” SDC Interim Director Patricia Flannery, who is also deputy director for developmental centers at DDS, told a group of concerned parents of SDC residents at a Jan. 12 meeting.
The units that have been withdrawn from consideration continue to operate, and SDC will continue to work to get them raised to a level where they are confident the units will be recertified. The recertification process will not begin until CDPH and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services agree that “systemic deficiencies” have been corrected.
In explaining why DDS has withdrawn the four units, Delgadillo wrote in the letter to Farris, “We recognize and accept that the recertification of the four non-certified units may take longer than the completion of the Performance Improvement Plan for the six certified units.”