The Last of the Institutions – corrections to investigation

Update January 7, 2016 regarding inaccurate data used in the DD Audit by Washington State Auditor – see red notes below

Corrections and clarifications are needed by Susannah Frame from King 5 News regarding her “investigative” series “The Last of the Institutions.

Ms. Frame and Russ Walker, Executive Producer King 5 Investigators, have both been notified of these issues and have been given more accurate and objective data and research.  Our hope is that they review the information and research they have been provided and produce a more accurate portrayal of the very complex issues involved with the care of our citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

  1. DDA Case Load and Costs Oct 2015 with Explanation – the reporters failed to mention that the costs attributed to the RHCs actually include costs for an average of 65 “community” clients who utilize the RHCs for short term stays, respite care, crisis care and other services.  This link has the explanations as provided by the Communications and Performance Unit Manager at DDA.
  2. These 65 clients are a non-duplicated number each month so in reality there could be 780 community clients who have their care and services billed to the RHC.  When looking at it this way it is clear that the RHC serves those in the community just as much as it serves the permanent residents.
  3. The DD Performance Audit is riddled with inaccurate data and has failed to capture much of the critical information needed to run a real performance audit.  Information about some of the issues can be found on this website under DD Audit.
  4. The DD Audit also uses resources that non-existent.  For instance, the DD Audit states they used the National Core Indicators Consumer Survey for Washington State 2009 -2010.  Washington State did not participate in the Consumer Survey by the National Core Indicators for the years 2009-2010.   Still trying to locate the data and the report the DD Audit team used for their information.
  5. In addition to questionable resources being used, the National Core Indicators are biased in their ability to capture the voice of those with more profound levels IDD and/or pronounced communication impairments. This population is excluded from the survey
  6. The NCI data is not a “national average” as reported by the DD Audit report.  The survey is only an average of the 16 states that voluntarily use the survey.

 

Response from the Human Services Research Institute in answer to my questions about our State Auditor DD Performance Audit which incorrectly referenced the NCI data for their audit.

In the past, WA collected the Adult Consumer Survey data during a time period that crossed over two separate NCI collection years – between Jan 2007 and Dec 2008.  (see below email from Lisa Weber, PhD) 

Because of this, the data could not be included in the national averages for the year 2009-10.  WA was issued a separate state report on these data (see attached.).

However, these data were included in the chart generator for the 09-10, but are NOT included in the NCI average on the chart generator for that year.  When you look at the data on the chart generator from 09-10 for Washington, please keep in mind the circumstances described above (especially if when comparing to the NCI average.)

Your question brought to my attention that this information should be noted in the chart generator for WA for that year.  I will work on getting that info added.

Referenced email from Lisa Weber, PhD (Washington State):

The attached file contains our data from the NCI Consumer Interviews.  There were 545 adults who participated in a Consumer Interview.  The interview responses and feedback forms are store in separate Access databases.

We have a two year data collection cycle, so this data was gathered between Jan 2007 -Dec 2008.  It was all gathered using the old version of the interview form.  We modified the data entry forms a bit to cover our additional questions and to make the data entry easier for our quality assurance staff, but the numbering of the NCI items in the tables has been left intact. 

Please write to Susannah Frame at sframe@king5.com and rwalker@king5.com to express concerns regarding the lack of objective reporting in this investigative series.

Why the confusion, King 5?

We often hear varying opinions about what the cost of care for people with intellectual disabilities really is.  This  should not be so difficult to figure out given that there are resources upon resources to use.  For some reason though, several of the resources which could give us the best information are not used.  This makes no sense to me unless the goal is to keep the public and legislators confused and to keep pretending that there is no real way to make a comparison of cost for community and institutional care.

In the most recent airing of “Last of the Institutions” by investigative reporter Susannah Frame of King 5 News, she did refer to the cost of care for one young man with high support needs.  He lives in a home supported by Alpha Supported Living.  Ms. Frame also interviewed Scott Livengood, CEO of Alpha Supported Living and referenced the “average” cost of care for those in dispersed community housing.  This young man’s daily care cost is $370.00 – far higher than the “average” cost reported to legislators and the public.

Using this “average” cost is a tactic that is used to hide the truth of the issue.  Those in DDA and the agencies know full well what the cost of care of each individual in a community setting is.  Each agency has negotiated with DDA the exact number of hours and supports that each of their clients will need.  It is no mystery.  Pretending that those with high support needs can be cared for at the “average” cost is nothing but a lie.

For instance, a couple of years ago I was given the daily rates for the cost of care of the 30 residents with the highest support needs and cost.  The daily range was $497 to $969 with an average direct care cost of $598.  If there was an “average” to use for the cost of care for residents in the shared community if they were to move to dispersed housing, this would be the average to use.  See this link for the chart with the costs and the support needs assessments of these clients. Highest 30 Residential Clients by Cost and acuity

I spoke with Russ Walker, Executive Producer for King 5 Investigators.  I brought up the issue of the dispersed community costs not including medical, dental, nursing care, prescription medications, and food – just to highlight a few cost centers.  Mr. Walker assured me that the costs did include these and they knew since Mr. Livengood had showed them the accounting for Alpha Supported Living. It’s interesting to note that the Certified Cost Report for Alpha Supported Living does not include these costs.  Certified Cost Report for Alpha Supported Living 2014

When looking at the actual data,  the calculations and cost accounts are very different than what is provided to our legislators and public.  When I have presented these differences to some legislators, Disability Rights Washington, the Developmental Disabilities Council and The Arc Chapters – the common response is refusal to communicate.    They have not been able to prove me wrong even when given the opportunity to do so.  I believe this means they are not able to prove me wrong.

Take a look for yourself and decide – what costs are missing from the community support side of the equation?  Do the costs add up as equal in your judgement and calculations?   Click the link for a table of the daily cost per resident.

Shared Community RHC and Alpha Supported Living Cost Comparison

I am using Alpha Supported Living as the example since this is the agency that Susannah Frame used in her investigation.  Alpha Supported Living is one of the better agencies yet the reimbursement from the state barely covers the cost.  Alpha has major fundraising campaigns to raise money to provide quality services to their residents.

Alpha Supported Living 990 2014

DDA Account Descriptions