Q: How did the State calculate my payment(s) for the Retention and Longevity Initiatives?
A: The payments for the Retention and Longevity Initiatives were calculated as follows:
- OPWDD used each agency’s costs associated with job position title code series 200 from the Consolidated Fiscal Report (CFR) for the 2018-19 and 2019 period and multiplied this amount by 20% plus any applicable agency mandated fringe benefit percentage to determine the applicable amounts for each agency.
- For the calculation of the Retention and Longevity Initiatives for Family Care and Fiscal Intermediaries, the payment calculations were as follows:
- Family Care Payments: The calculation for longevity and retention payments was 20% of the Difficulty of Care payment based on paid claims activities for the period of September 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021.
- Fiscal Intermediary Payments related to Direct Support Professionals for whom the Fiscal Intermediary is the employer of record. The calculation for longevity and retention payments is based on 20% of the aggregate compensation for DSP hours worked during the period of September 1, 2020, through August 31, 2021.
Q: How did the State calculate my payment(s) for the COVID Service and Vaccination Incentives?
A: The COVID Service and Vaccination Incentive payments were calculated as follows:
- COVID Service Payments: Providers must complete the survey distributed by OPWDD on January 5, 2022, and complete it by January 31, 2022, in the appropriate form and format for OPWDD to determine the amounts each provider may be eligible to receive. Based on the survey responses, payments will be made to each Direct Support Professional and Family Care employee who met the criteria as outlined in the Attestation for the following amounts multiplied by each agency’s mandatory fringe percentage:
- $1,000 for each staff member employed full-time
- $500 for each staff member employed at least, but not fewer than, 20 hours per week
- $250 for each staff member employed fewer than 20 hours per week
- Vaccination Incentive Payments: Providers must complete the survey distributed by OPWDD on January 14, 2022, and return it by January 31, 2022, in the appropriate form and format for OPWDD to determine the amounts each provider may be eligible to receive. The Provider may submit a simplified Vaccination Incentive survey, which was distributed by OPWDD on February 8, 2022 with a submittal deadline of February 11, 2022, to be utilized in lieu of the initial Vaccination Incentive survey. Based on the survey responses, payments will be made to each Direct Support Professional and Family Care employee who met the criteria as outlined in the Attestation for the following amounts multiplied by each agency’s mandatory fringe percentage:
- $500 for each staff member employed full-time
- $250 for each staff member employed at least, but not fewer than, 20 hours per week
- $125 for each staff member employed fewer than 20 hours per week
Q: Was the base data, cost, or otherwise adjusted by any factors (e.g., minimum wage)?
A: OPWDD adjusted the Consolidated Fiscal Report base data to account for mandated fringe benefit costs. This was the only adjustment.
Q: Why did the State use the July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 and January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019 Consolidated Fiscal Reports and not something more recent?
A: The 2018-19 and 2019 CFR periods were selected to avoid the potential influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on staffing patterns.
Q: Were mergers, acquisitions, and change-of-auspices taken into consideration in the calculation of the Retention and Longevity Payments?
A: Yes, mergers, acquisitions, and change of auspices through 12/1/2021 were taken into consideration in developing the payments.
Q: What staff are eligible to receive the bonuses/incentives?
A: As identified in the Attestation document, the Provider must only distribute Workforce Stabilization initiative Supplemental Payments to those Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), including contracted staff serving as DSPs, and/or Family Care providers that are appropriately reported as Direct Care staff (job position title code 200 series) in the Agency’s Consolidated Fiscal Report (CFR) supporting OPWDD-licensed programs/services. If an employee’s position is jointly allocated between a 200-299 job position title code and another non-qualifying job position title code, disbursements to that employee shall be based on a proportional allocation of time between the time spent in the direct care position versus another non-qualifying position(s).
Q: Why are only 200 series staff eligible?
A: OPWDD selected a focus on Title Code 200 Series Direct Care Support Professional and Family Care providers to address the critical staffing shortage stemming from the COVID-19 emergency; this decision was further influenced by a universal consensus amongst stakeholders that supporting these staff was the priority to ensure continued availability of supports and services.
Q: May I use funds in any manner If I want to address recruitment/retention issues for my agency?
A: The funds must be distributed as stipulated in the Attestation. You will note that the Attestation does detail flexibility with reference to the following distribution formula for Retention payments:
- Each DSP receives a percentage increase in accordance with an agency-specific Distribution Plan to address its own unique recruitment and retention challenges. The Distribution Plan must specifically detail the methodology the Provider will utilize to distribute Retention Payments to eligible DSPs. The Distribution Plan must stipulate a minimum level of Retention Payment for each eligible DSP that was employed at some point during the period of April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022 and continued to be employed by the Provider through the first complete payroll that ends on or prior to March 31, 2022 and is employed by the provider agency on the date the provider agency distributes the Retention Payments. The Distribution Plan must be in the form of a document that is signed by the agency’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Executive Director and an officer of the agency’s Board of Directors/Governing Body. The signed Distribution Plan must be made available and clearly communicated to all employees prior to payment. The Distribution Plan, including all supporting payroll records, must be retained by the provider and furnished upon request to OPWDD and/or other regulatory agencies.
Q: If I have fewer staff than I did in the base year, do I return any amounts in excess of a 20% bonus? Can I pay more than 20%?
A: All Supplemental Payments must be distributed in accordance with the Attestation guidance. You will note that the COVID Service and Vaccination Incentive distribution guidelines identify minimum distribution payments. Distributions in excess of the minimum standard may be made as all Supplemental Payments must be fully distributed to eligible employees. The Longevity and Retention distribution guidelines identify distribution formulas.
Q: How will my agency get paid and when?
A: Most Supplemental Payments will be effectuated via eMedNY. The only exception is for Supplemental Payments for providers serving members in the FIDA-IDD Plan. OPWDD will effectuate these payments to providers as a state directed payment through plans in accordance with 42 CFR 438.6. The goal is to have payments completed by March 31, 2022. For those agencies with Title Code 200-series staff in non-Medicaid programs, payments will be made via existing contract mechanisms.
Q: What is the definition of "completed COVID-19 vaccination regimen"?
A: A completed COVID-19 vaccination regimen refers to the completion of a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines.
Q:Are the payments inclusive of fringe benefits?
A: Yes, both the Supplemental Payments as well as the COVID Service and Vaccination Incentive payments are inclusive of mandated fringe benefits as reported on the CFR for the period ended December 31, 2019 for calendar year CFR filers or for the period ended June 30, 2019 for Fiscal Year CFR filers.
Q: What is the eligibility for staff that have positions that are jointly allocated between a 200 series and a non-qualifying series?
A: If an employee’s position is jointly allocated between a Title Series Code of 200-299 and another non-qualifying job position title code, disbursements to that employee shall be based on a proportional allocation of time between the time spent in the Direct Care position versus another non-qualifying position(s).
Q: Will the vaccination incentive payments be available to eligible Direct Support Professionals who were already vaccinated in advance of the 9/1/21 or 1/14/22 deadlines?
A: Yes, staff who meet the vaccination criteria as of the January 14, 2022 date will be eligible to receive the vaccination payment if they meet all other criteria.; however, they must be reported on the provider survey.
Q: Will providers be able to recoup a portion of the Heroes Pay or Vaccination Incentive Payments if funds were already distributed to reward staff?
A: Yes, if funds were distributed to staff after July 8, 2021, when OPWDD first announced the American Rescue Plan funding initiatives, and those funds were specifically related to a vaccination incentive or for service during the COVID period. If the full amount of the COVID Service or Vaccination Incentive payment was not distributed in its entirety to employees, the provider must make additional distributions such that the full amount is distributed.
Q: What is the definition of full-time employment?
A: Our expectation is full-time employment is 35 hours a week or greater, but the definition will be specific to each agency.
Q: Are temporary or contracted staff eligible for payments?
A: Yes, if temporary or contracted staff meet the eligibility criteria, they are eligible for payments.
Q: How should eligible Direct Support Professionals working in more than one program be reported?
A: Please allocate these individuals across programs as you would in the Consolidated Fiscal Report.
Q: The Attestation contains the following statement with a reference to compliance with subsequent guidance. Has any subsequent guidance been issued?
A: The following is subsequent guidance:
OPWDD is clarifying its intent that, while all providers must comply with the requirements set forth in the Attestation, nothing in that document is intended to result in an agency violating federal or state laws, rules or regulations, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Provider agencies are expected to adhere to all applicable laws in effectuating these payments to eligible staff.
Q: The Attestation indicates that a provider cannot comingle funding received under separate authorities – HCBS Medicaid, State Plan and Non-Medicaid. This presents a challenge because the payments were based on the 2018-19 and 2019 cost reports and staffing costs and the footprints of our programs have changed since then. As an employer, is there any leeway OPWDD can offer as it relates to this requirement?
A: To clarify, the Attestation never intended to limit a provider’s ability to offer bonuses to their staff based on the authority under which such payment was made to the agency. The statement in the attestation was intended to restrict the transfer of funds between initiatives, not between services/programs. This flexibility is critical to reflect changing spending patterns and services. For example, a provider may have converted their ICFs to IRAs in recent years; the expectation is that providers have the flexibility to aggregate the payments they received for each initiative and distribute the funds to their employees, regardless of the program they are supporting. Therefore, providers can aggregate payments received for the Longevity initiative from Medicaid (Waiver and State Plan) and Non-Medicaid sources and distribute them consistently to their employees without regard for the program they are supporting.
However, agencies receiving Longevity and Retention payments for Family Care providers and for those staff for whom an agency acts as the employer of record for people who self-direct, must distribute funds to those respective programs in accordance with the level of payments they received because these two programs relied upon more recent eMedNY claims data. These resources cannot be comingled.
Q: The Attestation identifies that "the Provider must expend all Workforce Stabilization initiative supplemental payments, except for Retention Payments, through distributions to eligible DSPs and/or Family Care providers no later than ninety (90) days after receipt of the funds. With respect to Retention Payments, an initial expenditure of funds must be made to eligible DSPs and Family Care providers within ninety (90) days of receiving the funds; the balance of the Retention Payments must be fully expended through distributions to eligible DSPs and/or Family Care providers no later than one hundred eighty (180) days after receipt of the funds."
If the Provider has an affiliation with the FIDA-IDD (Partners Health Plan), a portion of the Supplemental Payment funding will be sent to the Provider by Partners Health Plan. What are the distribution timelines in this circumstance?
A: In all circumstances, regardless of the Supplemental Payment funding process/source and specific to each Supplemental Payment made to the Provider, Providers are to adhere to the guidance that "the Provider must expend all Workforce Stabilization initiative supplemental payments, except for Retention Payments, through distributions to eligible DSPs and/or Family Care providers no later than ninety (90) days after receipt of the funds. With respect to Retention Payments, an initial expenditure of funds must be made to eligible DSPs and Family Care providers within ninety (90) days of receiving the funds; the balance of the Retention Payments must be fully expended through distributions to eligible DSPs and/or Family Care providers no later than one hundred eighty (180) days after receipt of the funds."
However, we strongly encourage Providers, with an FIDA-IDD affiliation, to disburse all Workforce Stabilization funds to employees on the same timetable, regardless of funding source, once the payments from Partners Health Plan are received. The fact that the Partners Health Plan payments to Providers are being made subsequent to those from other sources, due to additional CMS approval requirements, should not necessarily lengthen the timetable for distribution of funding to Direct Care staff and Family Care Providers.