Dear MO SSP Program participants and service providers:
On behalf of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) and the Missouri SSP Task Force, I would like to address a major change the SSP Program has recently encountered. Beyond Interpreting has already sent details about a new transportation policy, but I wanted to give you some further background information on how this situation came to be, and details on what you can expect moving forward.
Beyond Interpreting’s lawyer found a significant liability issue in the way the MO SSP Program has been addressing transportation. We discovered that an individual SSP’s auto insurance would not be able to cover a DeafBlind consumer if an accident were to occur. Since the SSP is paid for transportation, it is considered a commercial activity and would need to be insured as such. After meeting with representatives of a few major insurance companies, it became clear that the specialized insurance would not be in the budget for the program, nor for the SSPs to purchase on their own.
Clearly, this left a difficult situation for the program. Inadequate insurance coverage is not acceptable, as our top priority must be the safety of our consumers and sustainability of the program. Requiring SSPs to obtain expensive insurance is not practical. However, leaving DeafBlind consumers without transportation would be a huge hurdle to accessing services. This is where the solution presented by Beyond Interpreting came up; having an allotted amount of funding for other transportation services (such as Uber, Lyft, taxis, etc.) provides consumers with a way to get to and from appointments, while ensuring that all parties involved are financially covered in the event of an accident.
In the short amount of time this solution has been implemented, it quickly became clear that it is not an effective substitute for transportation. So, in order to fully focus efforts on solving this problem, the SSP Program will not be taking new appointments for training or SSP services for at least two weeks. Existing appointments may continue as scheduled.
We recognize that this oversight may cause a lot of frustration, and apologize for not considering this issue sooner. We are thankful for your patience and feedback as we continue to evolve our requirements to grow a program that allows DeafBlind individuals to live more independent lives, while maintaining high standards of safety, efficiency, and fairness.
The SSP Task Force will be meeting in the near future on a date to be determined. This meeting will primarily focus on evaluating our options for transportation. If you have feedback or ideas to improve transportation in the Missouri SSP Program, please direct them to Beyond Interpreting and/or Emily Morrison with MCDHH. Your suggestions will help guide discussion of the task force in developing new policies for the program.
You can expect to receive further updates from Beyond Interpreting on this matter, and, as always, feel free to ask questions if you are unclear on the process.
Business Operations Manager
Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Voice, Direct Line: (573) 526-0232