DOJ Asks the Court for an Open Status Conference

June 18, 2015

We have a copy of the 15 June 2015 letter from Kyle Smiddie, DOJ to Judge Gibney requesting that the “Status Conference” scheduled for July 9th be in open court.  Reportedly the request has been denied, but what is really interesting is the reason for the request. DOJ contends that the conference should be open because of the many areas of non-compliance as reported in the June 2015 Report from Don Fletcher, Independent Reviewer.  The letter focuses almost exclusively on what he claims is the Commonwealth’s delay in implementing the Waiver Redesign.  To be fair, DBHDS has, over the last several years proffered the Waiver Redesign as the answer to almost everything.  As you may recall the “plan” last year was to roll out the first phase in January 2016 (Independence Waiver), but they did not make the case to the General Assembly for the “200 slots” and rental subsidies which they asked for to kick-start the redesign. It is not entirely clear why the issues raised would warrant the Status Conference be held in open Court, except for the “embarrassment” value.  And it is not clear who they are trying to “embarrass”  as one of the points made is how the Commonwealth is accounting for the proceeds from the TC land sales – while the funds do get deposited with DBHDS for the purpose of expanding services; a like amount is “swept” from the account for no net gain.  This, according to the letter “appears to represent another example in which the Commonwealth’s full commitment to implement long-needed reforms for Virginian’s with ID/DD, as required under the Agreement, is lacking.” While it appears that the points made are factual (except for his substitution of the Department of Health – DOH, for DMAS as the partner agency with DBHDS), it is not clear whether the DOJ stance as expressed and to be expressed during the Status Conference will significantly influence the Judge, could influence the current timeframe for the Waiver Redesign and implementation, or will facilitate or stall GA support. The letter is available on the DOJ page under Member Resources.