Judge backs state in ‘iBudgets’ fight
An administrative law judge has sided with the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities in a dispute about the way services are funded for about 30,000 Floridians with developmental disabilities.
In a 29-page ruling , Judge R. Bruce McKibben said the agency has properly carried out a 2010 law requiring what are known as “iBudgets” in determining how much money people will receive for services. The decision came in a rules challenge filed on behalf of four developmentally disabled people, identified only by their initials for privacy reasons, who face funding cuts under the iBudget system.
Part of the case centered on a mathematical formula, or algorithm, that the agency was required to develop and use in allocating money. The challengers argued, in part, that the agency overstepped its legal authority by making adjustments outside the formula that affected how much money people receive.
But McKibben rejected that argument, pointing to what he described as the agency’s
“credible explanation of its process.”
“It is splitting hairs to say that APD cannot adjust the initial algorithm amount using pertinent information concerning each client’s unique situation and circumstances,’’ McKibben wrote. “The statute specifically allows for adjustments to the algorithm amount; the proposed rules reasonably attempt to effectuate that end.”
APD Director Barbara Palmer issued a statement praising the decision.
“We are so happy that the court supported all aspects of the iBudget program and validated how it was implemented across the state,’’ Palmer said.