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2017 State Legislative Priorities
The Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST), our state’s assistive technology (AT) program, and the Florida AT Advisory Council present its 2017 state legislative priorities.
- FAAST is proposing a pilot project to collect, refurbish, and reassign durable medical equipment purchased by Florida Medicaid. The pilot project will serve Broward, Henry, Glades, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties. Last year FAAST invested $16,000 for equipment recycling services in this area. Fair Market Value (FMV) of recycled items in this area totaled $96,052 for a Return on Investment (ROI) of $6.00 for every $1 of public funds.
- During the 2006 legislative session, FAAST successfully advocated passage of AT Follows a Child. This law created a mechanism for devices to transition along with students from setting to setting. Examples include a child transitioning from Early Steps to an elementary school or a student graduating from high school that will soon be receiving services from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). With the development and implementation of charter schools, issues of AT following a child has presented itself. It is for this reason, FAAST is advocating for the addition of the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice to be added to AT Follows a Child to ensure successful AT transition to charter schools.
- The final priority is purely a procedural correction to Florida Statute (FS) 413.407. This statute mandates the Florida AT Advisory Council serve as the Board of Directors for FAAST. Florida is the only state AT program in the nation with this directive. This statute also specifies five state agencies to serve on the Advisory Council. These members often have to recuse themselves in matters related to budget, public policy, and advocacy issues relating to the funding of AT. Removing this requirement would eliminate the problem. Also, 413.407 states a maximum board census of 27. National averages for nonprofit Board of Directors range from seven to nine members.
To conclude, FAAST wants to bring your attention to the fact Florida Governor Rick Scott wishes to transform Florida Medicaid funding into a block-grant. This is of concern to FAAST because Florida Medicaid is the primary source of financing of AT for Floridians with disabilities. We recognize the need to look for more efficient and cost-effective options for Florida Medicaid. Please remember the idiom, the devil is in the details. FAAST implores you to exercise your oversight of Medicaid to ensure citizens still have access to AT. We must make certain that people with disabilities are not forgotten in the state of Florida. Our most vulnerable citizens depend on you.