Ricketts announces relaxed health measures in three more regions, affirms state’s emergency plan to care for Nebraskans with developmental disabilities

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Governor Pete Ricketts announced April 29 that the State will relax its directed health measures (DHMs) in three additional local health departments as of May 11, 2020.  These are the Lincoln/Lancaster County, West Central, and Three Rivers health districts.

The Governor also reminded Nebraskans to visit TestNebraska.com to fill out the simple, 5-minute health assessment.  These assessments are helping the State to determine where to deploy testing resources.

Tony Green, Interim Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, joined the Governor at today’s press briefing.  He outlined temporary changes to the State’s provision of Home and Community Based Services for people with disabilities.  These modifications have been made in response to the pandemic and will remain in place throughout the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Gov. Ricketts: Reminders

·     We are now on Day 20 of the “21 Days to Stay Home and Stay Healthy” campaign.

o  We are in the final stretch before we move to regional Directed Health Measures.

·     I want to remind people of our Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy.

o  Stay home.  No non-essential errands and no social gatherings.  Respect the ten-person limit.

o  Socially distance your work.  Work from home or use the six-foot rule as much as possible in the workplace.

o  Shop alone and only shop once a week.  Do not take family with you.

o  Help kids follow social distancing.  Play at home.  No group sports.  And no playgrounds.

o  Help seniors stay at home by shopping for them.  Do not visit long-term care facilities.

o  Exercise daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.

·     We need every Nebraskan to go to TestNebraska.com to fill out this quick assessment.

o  The assessment is also available in Spanish at TestNebraska.com/es

·     These assessments are helping us determine where to set up testing sites across the state.

Directed Health Measure (DHM) Announcements

·     In consultation with Local Health Departments (LHDs), we’re extending existing DHMs for the following areas until May 11th.

o  Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Dept.

o  West Central District Health Dept.

o  Three Rivers Public Health Dept.

·     Each of these districts will move to a less restrictive DHM on May 11th.  This will allow for the limited reopening of dine-in services at restaurants and of salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, and massage therapy services.

·     The less restrictive DHM will take effect on May 4th in many other health department regions.  These include:

o  Douglas County Health Dept.

o  Sarpy/Cass Dept. of Health

o  East Central District Health Dept.

o  Four Corners Health Dept.

o  Loup Basin Public Health Dept.

o  North Central District Health Dept.

o  Northeast Nebraska Public Health Dept.

o  Panhandle Public Health District

o  Southeast District Health Dept.

o  Southwest Nebraska Public Health District

·     Local health departments not listed above will remain under the more restrictive DHM.

Interim Director Green: Developmental Disabilities (DD)

·     DHHS is committed to caring for all Nebraskans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

·     Appendix K is a standalone appendix that may be utilized by states during emergency situations to request amendment to approved Home and Community Based Services for people with disabilities.  It includes actions that states can take under the existing Section 1915(c) home and community-based program authority in order to respond to an emergency. 

·     DHHS submitted our Appendix K on March 31st and received final approval on April 20th.  The approved time period for the Appendix K is from March 6, 2020 to September 6, 2020 (or until the emergency is lifted and an earlier end date is requested).

·     The Temporary COVID-19 Appendix K:

o  Allows certain services to be delivered in alternative settings.

§  These include Residential Services such as Independent Living, Supported Family Living, Shared Living, Host Home, or Group Home.

§  These also include Day Services such as Habilitative Community Inclusion, Habilitative Workshop, or Adult Day.

·     Some services cannot be delivered in alternative settings.  These include Supported Employment and Enclave Services.

o  Allows retainer payments when certain services are not available to the participant.

o  Allows caps on certain services to be exceeded.

o  Allows remote or electronic methods of service delivery.

§  Independent Living, Supported Family Living, Habilitative Community Inclusion, Habilitative Workshop, and Adult Day services can be delivered via an electronic method of service delivery when determined appropriate by the team.  This is to encourage frequent check-ins and socialization.  Tele-monitoring may also be used for cueing and prompting while running habilitation programs, but is not intended for continuous supervision.

o  Modifies the person-centered service plan development process.

o  Increases certain payment rates.

·     Details on the State’s Appendix K can be found by clicking here and scrolling down to the “Developmental Disabilities” section of the webpage.