New government rules could impact area vocational and training c - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

New government rules could impact area vocational and training centers

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Chippewa Valley (WQOW) - Having a job is more than bankingthe bucks. A job has become a place of social engagement for people withdevelopmental disabilities who work at Chippewa River Industries (C.R.I) and REACH, Inc.

Dave Lemanski, the president andC.E.O. of Chippewa River Industries said, "Many people are referred not so much on the work piece, butfor the socialization, the integration, just getting out of their homes, havesomething to do, have some place to go during the day. And that carries a lotof benefit to a lot of folks that we serve."

However, how these vocational andtraining centers operate could soon change. A federal agency that distributes Medicaidfunds made a new rule in mid-January. This new rule demands specific criteriathese types of companies need to offer in order to continue to receive funding:ensuring privacy and dignity, allowing for independent work, providing supportservices, all of which the agencies already provide.  It's this character that could be achallenge: providing a work environment that could be considered vocational ora competitive environment in which to work.

Sipress said, "There are manydisabled people who wouldn't even know how to react to a question like,"Do you want to work in a regular job?" And, if you ask my daughterthat question, her answer would be just a shrug. She wouldn't even know whatyou're talking about."

The Centers for Medicare and MedicaidServices plan to write the guidelines by mid-April. Next, the State of Wisconsin will look athow they should apply to centers, like C.R.I and REACH.

Lemanski said, "What isn't outyet and what we don't know is these sub-regulatory guidance is, what they'regoing to issue to states. And that's what we're waiting on the edge of our seatright now."

Sipress said, "It sets up realthreats to the programs that serve the severely disabled. The more severelydisabled can't produce at the same level that a firm might need for theiremployees."

A meeting will take place at C.R.I. on Wednesday, March 5 at 6:00 p.m. Leaders for the disability community in Wisconsin will discuss the new rules established by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and strategies for maintaining choices for services to the disabled.

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