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March 1, 2013

Open Line

This edition of Open Line includes important information I want to share with you:

clipOrange Grove Center Visit:  Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit Orange Grove staff members and their Board of Directors regarding the Tennessee Works Partnership that Orange Grove, SRVS, and Rochelle Center are participating in this year.  A number of ideas were discussed as to how to build upon the momentum within these organizations to support more people in competitive jobs in the community.  Following these discussions, I presented an award to Dr. Bruce Hutchinson for the donation of his time, talent, and personal resources for persons with developmental disabilities in Hamilton County.  Dr. Hutchinson (pictured on the right) is the current Board President for the Orange Grove Board of Directors and he humbly accepted

this honor on behalf of all of the volunteers and staff members of Orange Grove.

Loaned Executive Program:  Kyle Hauth, Executive Director of Orange Grove Center, visited Central Office this week to participate in various meetings and shadow DIDD staff.  Of his experience, Mr. Hauth noted, “I thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from the DIDD Loaned Executive program.  It was an eye opening and humbling experience.  I have never heard of a State Department that orchestrates the total immersion of contractors into their system by allowing the shadowing of top-level personnel in their day-to-day duties.  My experience provided a renewed appreciation for the transparency and honesty of DIDD in fulfilling its responsibilities and made me even more proud of the great State of Tennessee.”

Family Model Residential Services:  Earlier this week, a group convened to discuss the topics of recruitment, promoting Family Model Residential Services (FMRS) as a cost effective residential service and redefining the services available to better reflect the people supported.  Participants were selected because of a stated interest in these topics or a level of expertise that could be brought to this discussion based on the numbers of people for whom the agency provides FMR Services.  Agency participants were Mickey Atkins, D&S; Jay Camperlino, MillarRich; Tonya Copeland, Evergreen; Ralph Kennedy, Tennessee Family Solutions; and Steve Norris, Omni Visions.  Central Office was represented by Jordan Allen, Barbara DeBerry, and Tom O’Brien.  Information obtained during the course of these meetings will help shape discussions in future meetings and guide future policy decisions.  My thanks to all for participating in these discussions and for coming up with productive Next Steps that will hopefully enrich supports for people receiving FMRS throughout the state.

Bi-Weekly Provider Billing and Payment:  On February 28, DIDD Assistant Commissioner Lance Iverson and Michelle Morse Jernigan, Bureau of TennCare Deputy of Long Term Care Quality and Administration, released a joint letter to service providers detailing the billing and payment process, outlining risks to the payment processing system stability as a result of current collective provider billing processes, and encouraging strongly the use of the bi-weekly billing capability that the state has made available to service providers.  Please see the detailed letter attached for further information.

March 8 Provider Payment Risk:  Due to the high volume of claims submitted to the Bureau of TennCare by DIDD and other TennCare providers for payment processing (see issue noted in the above Open Line item), there is currently an unknown percentage of risk that some claims will not be paid on March 8 as scheduled.  If there are some claims of the over 225,000 claims submitted that are not paid on March 8 as scheduled (or only partially paid) those claims would be fully paid on March 15. 

Please note that neither DIDD nor TennCare will have any additional information on this payment until the middle of next week.  We are committed to notifying providers immediately, if in fact there are any claims that did not process, as soon as the progress of this payment processing is more clear.

Employment First Leadership State Mentoring Program (EFLSMP) Grant:   As most of you are aware, DIDD has been actively involved with the Office of Disability Employment Policy for over a year now.  As we have now transitioned into our second year activities relative to this grant, DIDD is now prepared to welcome Nancy Gurney to our state on April 15, 2013.  Nancy will spend a week visiting each of the three provider agencies participating in the process of converting from sheltered settings to competitive and integrated employment placement services.  In addition, Ms. Gurney will also provide consultation to my staff relative to current and future steps to ensure that we are able to maintain our momentum in supporting system change in the months and years to come.  We look forward to working alongside Nancy and the staff at the Orange Grove Center, Rochelle Center, and SRVS as we further develop our strategic plan to support this essential transformation.

Employment Data Collection System:  Over the past three months, DIDD has worked with our provider community to refine and improve our accuracy and interface with regard to our Employment Data Collection system.  While data relative to November and December of 2012 was observed as test data, our expectation is that the data provided by agencies for January 2013 will be accurate and useable.  I was recently provided with a report that details agencies that have not provided employment dates relative to persons supported in Day Services.  I want to reiterate to all contracted providers that this data is essential to our efforts to better support persons receiving waiver services.  As has been mentioned in previous editions, this data will be used to set baseline totals, observe progress, and identify agencies that are highly effective in their placement and long term employment supports.  An agency failing to submit timely and accurate data compromises the integrity of this effort.  Our department has made a commitment to all stakeholders to improve both access to, and efficacy of, employment supports within our service system.  Our provider community is one of the most effective and skilled in the entire country and I have the utmost confidence that we can achieve the goals we have set for ourselves.

In the spirit of this collective effort, I encourage you to contact your regional Day Service Coordinator or our Central Office Day Service supports to discuss any reporting issues you are having.  While the challenge inherent in our effort to ensure that we as a community are fully supporting employment outcomes for all persons within our service system is great, so is our resolve.  I can think of no greater partners in this endeavor and pledge this department’s full support to you as we continue our march forward.

Employment First Executive Order:  As part of our Employment First initiative, DIDD is proud to announce that an Executive Order, formally announcing the State of Tennessee’s commitment to the principles contained within the Employment First movement, has been drafted and submitted to the Office of the Governor for consideration.  The order, drafted with input from our Department, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Labor, Council on Developmental Disabilities, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, TennCare, The Arc of Tennessee and the Disability Law and Advocacy Center, directs all State agencies to coordinate efforts to increase opportunities for integrated and competitive employment for Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, substance abuse disorders and other disabilities. The order also requests that the formation of a Governor’s Employment First Taskforce be executed to further develop essential components of the initiative.  We are proud to have worked with so many dedicated and capable leaders within our state to produce this affirmation of our collective resolve to ensure that the opportunity and benefits of gainful employment are offered to all Tennesseans with a desire to work.

Project Titan Regional Kickoff Meetings:  Earlier this week, DIDD held the first of its Regional Office Kickoff meetings in the West Regional Office.  We would like to thank all of the participants from both the staff and provider meetings.  A copy of the presentations from both DIDD and Mid-America can be viewed at:

http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/newsroom/OpenLine/resources/Project Titan - Regional Kickoff Meeting.pptx

http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/newsroom/OpenLine/resources/Mid-America PowerPoint Presentation - 2-28-2013.pptx

As a reminder, you can send any questions or feedback to the Project Titan e-mail address at DIDD.Titan@tn.gov.  Next week, we will have meetings in the Middle and East regions.  The schedule for the provider meetings is below:






2:00 PM –4:00 PM (CT)

Middle Region

Clover Bottom Campus – 1 Cannon Way Conference Room


1:00 PM –3:00 PM (ET)

East Region

Knoxville, TN – L.T. Ross Building

During these meetings, we will be presenting information about our upcoming project to replace our existing computer information systems.  This systems implementation will cover three primary areas: Service Planning, Service Tracking and Billing, and Protection from Harm.  We recommend that any staff persons that are involved in these three areas attend, if possible.  Providers that are unable to attend in person, may also participate on the date of the meeting via web conference using the Adobe Connect information below.

NOTE: In order to attend the web conference, participants will need an internet connection and a computer equipped with either internal or external speakers.   
Instructions for Joining the Web Conference:

To join the meeting, participants should enter the link below in their web browser:

Select the option to enter as guest, type in your agency’s name, and click on the option to enter the meeting room.  You may be prompted to install an Adobe Connect Add-In, which may take a few minutes to download and install.  You may also need to temporarily disable your pop-up blocker.  If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before, you can test your connection before the meeting using the link below:


Licensure Update:  As noted in previous issues, the DIDD website includes a Licensure page.  Department specific forms related to obtaining initial licenses and renewing current licenses have been finalized.  These forms and other Licensure information can be found on the DIDD website at: http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/Licensure/Licensure.shtml.

Accreditation Update:  Congratulations to Amber Perry, Kelly Bradley-Owens, Tony Pena, and Derrell Lankford for becoming certified in the Basic Assurances review process.  Special thanks to the following providers for opening their doors to us as we completed the certification process: Prolex Services, Faith Specialized Services, Envisions, and Tennessee Personal Assistance, Inc.  I realize the amount of transparency required on the provider’s part to allow this to happen and sincerely appreciate your efforts to support our ongoing accreditation initiatives.

Job Plans for State Employees:  A new consultant has been hired to assist DIDD supervisors with the development of SMART job plans.  Job plans that are not SMART will need to be rewritten during the next few weeks.  The TEAM Act, which was passed last October, requires that all employees have a SMART job plan, and the expectation is that all DIDD supervisors will comply with the Governor’s initiative.