As we have mentioned to you through our various communications in the last week, all seven CCO’s in the state have been working together during this COVID-19 pandemic and have requested relief from OPWDD/DOH on several requirements. These requests will allow you to continue to focus the majority of your time on what’s most important – reaching out and supporting the individuals and families that we support.

Today, we learned that our request for relief on Life Plans will be granted retroactively to March 7, 2020. Specifically, this means:

  • All Life Plan due dates will be extended. The current Life Plan will remain in effect during the NY State Emergency. The Care Managers (CM’s) and InterDisciplinary Teams (IDT’s) are not required to hold Life Plan meetings or develop new Life Plans during this time.
  • For new enrollees, the initial Life Plan due date will also be extended. Service Authorizations for new enrollees still need to be discussed with the Regional Offices. A Life Plan will not be required but the Regional Office needs to approve and advise what, if any, documentation may be needed in place of a Life Plan.
  • Services in alternative sites can be authorized prior to updating the participant’s Life Plan. This means that when those we support have a change in location of service (such as we have seen with the DH closures), this can occur without an addendum completed by the Care Manager.
  • Once the New York State of Emergency has been lifted, Care Managers will have 60 days to finalize an amended Life Plan to reflect changes made to respond to the crisis. This allows CM’s to continue working on COVID-19 assessments and assisting individuals/families with immediate needs now and addendums to Life Plans will not be due for 60-days after the state emergency has been lifted. Changes made to respond to the crisis include areas such as service locations, safeguards, etc.

This same relief was given to all of you who provide HCBS Waiver services and typically require Staff Action Plans (SAPs). Habilitation Providers will not be required to develop, review, or revise SAPs. The existing Staff Action Plan will remain in effect for the duration of the NY State Emergency and amendments will not be due for 60-days after the state emergency has been lifted. Therefore, STC Care Managers will not and should not expect new or revised Staff Action Plans from providers during this time as we know your focus is also on the health and safety of those you support during this COVID19 pandemic.

Additional CCO requests for regulatory relief are still under review and we will be sure to announce any additional items as soon as we are aware of them. Our commitment to our mission, the health and safety of the individuals/families we support, and our workforce continues to be our priority. This includes an extension of the current 2 week remote working policy- we will be extending this time frame for an additional 2 weeks or until the crisis is deemed over. This extension would mean that Southern Tier Connect Care Managers will be working from their homes until April 10th, 2020. This is subject to change as we monitor the situation on a day by day basis.

Please share any guidance your agency has regarding current Community Based Services such as SDS, Community Hab, SEMP, Pre-Voc and Residential, as it applies to your policies during COVID-19. Questions are coming up every day as to what is happening with staff and services at our various Network Provider Agencies and we would love to have the knowledge to share with our members.

We have instructed our Care Managers to always refer the families and individuals to ask questions of the Provider who provides the service as a first step!

Please stay safe and healthy and as always if you have any questions please write or call me.


Meghann Andrews-Whitaker | Executive Director
Southern Tier Connect | Oneonta, NY
p: (607)376-7526 Ext. 260