Deny and Defend

We are all aware that our society is driven to lawsuits  but why is this?  I’m sure there are many theories out there but my theory is that the continual denial of any wrongdoing (by total mistake, ignorance or malice) and the inability to say “I’m sorry”, “you’re right, I made a mistake, how can we fix this?” or any acceptance of responsibility leads to anger and frustration on the part of the parties harmed which then leads them to the court – the last resort for some sense of reality check on what really happened.

What a waste of time, talent and money – money that could be used for good if only people (agencies) could accept responsibility and be accountable.

Working in Labor and Delivery for many, many years, knowing that at any moment a disaster could happen which would change the lives of the family, I saw every birth as a miracle – for many reasons.  Knowing that one moment in time a disaster could happen which was no fault of anyone but just happened in the birth process, I was amazed that any child came out alive (or mother for that matter.)  Yet, Obstetrics is one of the highest areas of litigation and also has some of the highest rates for malpractice insurance.  Yes, there is malpractice but not every thing that goes wrong is caused by malpractice or misjudgment on the part of the healthcare providers.  Things just happen.

In recent years I have been the involved in several situations in which I was told “you should sue” but I don’t want to sue just because I could.  I wrote letters to those involved and received apologies, acceptance of responsibility, strategies to improve and re-train the healthcare staff in appropriate practices and documentation.  That’s all I wanted – I just didn’t want others to experience the same things that we experienced when they could be fixed.  Why sue when people accept responsibility and make efforts to improve?

I am writing this post because I recently submitted an inquiry on the Washington State Auditor’s Citizen Hotline.  This past year the Washington State Auditor did a so-called audit on the Developmental Disabilities Administration.  This audit (DD Audit) was riddled with inaccurate and incomplete data and opinions yet was treated as “fact” in recent legislation.  It is shameful that this document was used in our legislative process for decision making.  Many of us attempted to point out the glaring errors in the DD Audit but apparently it is assumed the State Auditor has the facts and there is no need to question reports that are generated.  Interesting to note though is that our state paid over $400,000 for a local company which also subcontracted to an out-of-state entity, well known across the country, to be biased in assessing needed supports for our most vulnerable.

In submitting an online Citizen’s Hotline referral, I was hoping there may be some new insight into this issue and I may receive some sort of response which acknowledged the glaring errors.  I was so wrong.

I have attached the response letter that I received.  It is a great example of the “deny and defend” policy.  I now understood why people are driven to sue – I was more than angry – giving the Auditor an opportunity to accept responsibility and look at the errors and admit there were mistakes only lead to more denial.  The people in the auditor’s office cannot even see the facts or respond to questions that were asked.

I am more than disappointed with this – I am ashamed that we allow our government to treat us this way and am ashamed that those in our government cannot accept responsibility that they are given.

Deny and Defend policy hurts us all.  The medical field is learning this and is trying to change it’s ways.  By being honest and trying to promptly disclose medical errors and offering earnest apologies together with fair compensation, the medical community is hoping to restore integrity.  The hope is this will dilute the anger that is built up in those wronged by continually being told inaccurate and incomplete information which will in turn reduce lawsuits.

I would hope our government agencies take notice of this too.

Auditor response to citizen complaint

 

 

 

Seattle Times Editorial – DD Waiting lists

I like to think that if the validity of a report is questioned, the responsible thing to do would be to check it out.  Not so with the Seattle Times with regards to a recent editorial “End waiting list for people with developmental disabilities“.

Yes, it is absolutely true that we need to end the waiting list for supports and services and for this I believe every advocate for people with developmental disabilities is thankful, but what the Seattle Times and other so-called advocates continue to talk about is the inequity of services and supports.  The “haves and have nots” as the recent DD Audit termed the problem.

I’m sorry that the Seattle Times editorial staff will not look at this issue and the concerns that have been raised regarding the validity of the DD Audit.  Our state should not base any legislation or policies on data which was reported in the recent state performance audit of the Developmental Disabilities Administration.

I submitted an essay to the Seattle Times regarding this issue but they have declined it.  I am publishing here in hopes that the citizens of our state read this and understand the problems and misleading and downright false information which has been reported.  We can not just accept without questioning – particularly when some major errors have been identified and pointed out.

In response to the recent editorial from February 9, 2014 entitled “End Waiting List for People with Disabilities”:

I fully support expanding community services for those with developmental disabilities and their families.  However, it is wrong to argue that the lack of services, supports, and funds for those in community settings is somehow due to the money spent on those living in the Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs).  This “haves vs. have-nots” mentality has been propagated by supposed advocates for those with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and is based on misleading and biased research fostered by those with an agenda to close the RHCs, a move that would be disastrous for our most vulnerable citizens and entail not a savings but a much greater expenditure of funds.

Rather than seeking objective research, our State Auditor hired out-of-state “experts” who pride themselves on closing RHCs to manage the project team that provided the data for the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) audit.  This has meant that the audit contains critical omissions, inaccurate data, and false assumptions, with dire implications for our system and those it serves.

What’s going on here is an extreme case of cost-shifting.  The RHCs are medical facilities providing full, comprehensive medical, nursing, pharmaceutical, psychiatric, therapeutic, vocational, recreational, and behavioral care in addition to daily staff helping with the activities of daily living for residents.  All of these services fall under the DDA budget.  Community support, on the other hand, entails individually utilizing programs and funds in an a-la-carte fashion from as many as seven programs under the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

What is crucial to keep in mind is that a person with acute needs in a community setting draws on far more resources than what appears on the DDA budget.  They draw from DSHS Medical, Economic, and Mental Health programs, local and state budgets, emergency response teams, hospitals, clinics, therapeutic resources, and so forth.  All of these costs are ignored by the audit, which looks narrowly at the DDA budget alone.  Information on these costs is readily available through the Integrated Client Data Base, but the auditors chose not to look at it.  Had they looked, they would have seen that 35% of those on the DDA budget receive paid supports from at least three other DSHS programs.  Moreover, each residential agency is required to submit an annual certified cost report of its expenses, something again ignored by the DDA audit even though this data is crucial for understanding where the funds go and how they are utilized.  Finally, the DDA is even ignoring its own data.  Its cost of care figures show that the top thirty developmentally disabled clients in the community cost an average of $598 each per day, while the cost of the same level of care for those with similar needs is $248 per day in the RHCs.

Space does not permit me to note all the other flaws with this audit.  (For example, in assessing support needs, the auditors omitted four of the seven standard areas of assessment).  To sum up, the audit is little more than a hatchet job aimed at RHCs.  It ignores the information most pertinent to the actual costs of care inside and outside of RHCs, and manipulates what data it does use.  What we have here is a shell game, but its victims are not unwitting Seattle tourists on a Times Square vacation, but rather those who most direly need the services of the RHCs, and the citizens of our State who will be stuck with the bill for a “reform” that costs more but delivers less.

I do hope that The Seattle Times Editorial Staff will take time to read this information and re-think their support of such a false report.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, , Ryan Blethen,  , , Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen

It’s a Wonderful Lie

WA Action Alert

 

Once again, The ARC – Washington State has issued an Action Alert to advocates with inaccurate and unfounded information.  Is this another attempt to rile up advocates for those who have intellectual or developmental disabilities to go against one another rather than working together for the good of the whole? It is a wonderful lie, but it’s a lie.  That is not wonderful – it’s deceptive and harmful.

Please see this link for accurate information from both the Office of Financial Management and Memo from DDA Asst Secretary Perez re 2014 Proposed Supp Budget.  It is clear from both these documents that The ARC-Washington State is misleading our citizens.  I have written to both Sue Elliott, Executive Director and Diana Stadden, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator to indicate the source of their information for the extremely misleading Action Alert.  They have not been able to produce any evidence to support their claim.

 

Alert

Below is the text of The ARC – Washington State Action Alert

Arc action Alert for posting

Comparing the misleading information above which was sent out in a media blitz on December 19, 2013, the real information is below:

In light of these facts, Governor Inslee is proposing modest adjustments to the 2013 Supplemental Budget.  There is a very slight .7% overall increase in the DDA budget to meet these changes, which include:

  • An expansion of eligibility to Medicaid to individuals between the ages of 19 and 64, with income below 138% of the federal poverty level;
  • Funding for full time staff to perform preadmission screening, resident review, and specialized services (when needed) to Nursing Home clients in the Residential Habilitation Centers.
  • Reimbursement for developmental and autism screening will be added to the Medicaid plan to assure that children with developmental delays are identified as soon as possible.
  • Hiring of additional Residential and Community Services investigators of supported living providers in order to improve the timeliness of investigations, which will be funded through a certification fee.
  • The Vulnerable Adults Incident Tracking system (TIVA) which will be  funded through the Roads to Community Living grant.
  • Development of the Community First Choice option Medicaid waiver which would result in the state receiving an additional 6% federal match for services provided to individuals with developmental disabilities and the elderly.  The savings could be re-invested in additional client services.
  • Capital Budget—Funding added to the Capital budget to make infrastructure repairs at Lakeland Village and Fircrest School.

It certainly appears to me that there is support from our Governor to ALL people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – from the young children to the elderly, from those at home to those in supported communities.

Please, encourage The ARC chapters to support a continuum of care, support ALL people with ID/DD and do not pit advocates against each other by spreading false information.  In order to improve the situation, we need to work TOGETHER!

Please do write, call, email, fax Governor Inslee to indicate your support for working together for the benefit of ALL

Call the Governor’s office at (360) 902-4111

Send an email to the Governor at https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/

Post a response on Governor Inslee’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WaStateGov

(You must have a Facebook account. Be sure to tag your legislators.)

Send a tweet (text message of 140 characters or less) to Governor Inslee’s Twitter at https://twitter.com/govinslee