By Gina Macris
Elena Nicolella, executive director of a non-profit consortium overseeing a review of the rates Rhode Island pays private providers for services to adults wlth developmental disabilities, will address the Project Sustainability Commission Thursday, April 25.
Sen. Louis DiPalma, D-Middletown, the commission chairman, said Nicolella will explain the scope of the work, the timetable, and the documentation that is required under the terms of the consortium’s contract with the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH).
Nicolella is executive director of the New England States Consortium Systems Organization (NESCSO), a non-profit collaboration involving five of the six New England states that aims to promote policies and programs that will serve the needs of the region in a cost-effective manner, according to its website. Only Maine does not belong to the regional group.
DiPalma said he expects that “everything will be on the table” about Project Sustainability, the fee-for-service payment system which providers say hamstrings their ability to offer integrated services in the community as required by a 2014 federal consent decree.
Project Sustainability, enacted by the General Assembly in 2011, forced providers to cut workers’ pay to minimum wage levels, wiping out established career ladders that helped bring continuity to the care of adults with developmental disabilities.
In November, Mark Podrazik, the consultant who advised the state in planning Project Sustainability, told DiPalma’s commission that reimbursement rates should be reviewed every five years.
Thursday’s Project Sustainability Commission meeting featuring Nicolella will begin at 2 p.m. in the Senate Lounge at the State House, according to DiPalma.
NESCSO has a $1.3 million contract with BHDDH over an 18-month period to review private provider rates for developmental disabilities and behavioral healthcare service. The contract also calls on NESCSO to provide technical assistance in connection with creating out-patient services for patients of Eleanor Slater Hospital.
The work in developmental disabilities represents about $700,000 of that total, according to a BHDDH spokeswoman.