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UPDATE: UDW is monitoring changing EVV plans closely

You’ve probably heard a lot about Electronic Visit Verification (EVV), the new federal law that says every state must monitor caregivers in Medicaid-funded programs like IHSS or lose significant funding.  A lot of providers and clients have rightly been nervous about what that might mean for our privacy, so UDW has been working with the state for the past two years to ensure that California complies with the EVV law in a way that is minimally burdensome to providers and clients.

With the input of UDW providers and others in the IHSS community, California came up with a system that would be based on the existing electronic timesheet system (with a landline phone option for those of us who prefer to communicate that way). With a pilot project that started this year in Los Angeles and rolling out statewide throughout 2020, California’s IHSS EVV program plan requires no electronic surveillance, no “real time” reporting and no detailed descriptions of what services were provided. To guarantee our privacy was protected, UDW sponsored budget legislation this year that added these protections into state law.

The federal government in Washington, however, surprised the caregiving community in early August by issuing guidelines that call into question California’s plans by stating that web-based EVV programs would be unacceptable.

The guidelines also said that EVV would NOT be required of live-in providers. This is certainly welcome news for the approximately half of California’s IHSS providers who live with their clients, but as this is the first time the government has stated this, it is too soon to know if those of us who live with our clients are off the EVV hook.

These are confusing developments and you may be hearing alarming or conflicting things about EVV online or from other providers, so we wanted to update you with the facts as they stand right now:

  • Not the final word -It’s unclear whether these guidelines will be the final word from the federal government on the subject of EVV. “Guidelines” are interpretations of a law, not the law itself. The current administration often changes course in their positions on Medicaid-based services and does not have a clear vision on long-term care in general. And, with a presidential election next year, the possibility of a different administration issuing different EVV guidelines is a real possibility.
  • California doesn’t want to implement electronic surveillance – The state of California has made it clear throughout the implementation and development process of EVV that it is not interested in the expense, hassle and privacy invasion of using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) that states like Ohio are using to fulfill their EVV requirement. Officials at California’s Department of Social Services are carefully studying the new guidelines to decide on next steps. They have committed to updating us as soon as possible once they have more information to share.
  • UDW is working to protect our privacy – We have made clear since the first day EVV was passed that we will fight any system that infringes on the rights of providers and clients. We will continue this fight and will send out updates once they are available. We have asked the state to stop the EVV roll out until they can ensure their original plan will be accepted by the federal government.

There are a lot of unknowns at this point but this much is clear: UDW has fought EVV from the beginning and will continue to fight any policies that infringe on the civil and privacy rights of caregivers and their clients The work we do is hard enough without having to add extra work or feel like someone is watching us. We will continue to update you as we work to settle the EVV issue once and for all.