PROPOSED ORDER OF
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES
TO ADOPT PERMANENT RULES
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (hereinafter “department”) proposes an order to repeal DHS 78.05 (4) and (5), 78.06 (2), and 78.07 (2) (c); to amend DHS 78.03 (1), 78.03 (3) through (8), 78.04 (1) (a), (b), (b) (Note), 78.04 (2) (Intro), 78.04 (2) (b) through (f), 78.05 (1) and (3) (a), 78.06 (3), and 78.07 (1); and to create DHS 78.03 (10), 78.05 (7), relating to telecommunication assistance for deaf, deafblind, and severely hard of hearing persons.
See the “Statutory authority” section.
Explanation of agency authority
(1) Assistance. From the appropriation under s. 20.435 (7) (d), the department shall, subject to the availability of funds, provide assistance to hearing-impaired persons to secure telecommunication devices capable of serving their needs. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the department shall purchase or provide funds for the purchase of telecommunication devices.
(2) Eligibility. A person is eligible to receive assistance under sub. (1) if all of the following conditions are met:
(a) The person is certified as deaf or severely hearing impaired by a physician, an audiologist licensed under subch. II of ch. 459 or the department. (b) The adjusted gross income of the person's family is equal to or less than 200% of the poverty line established under 42 USC 9902 (2). (3) Hearing rights. Any person aggrieved by a decision of the department under this section has a right to a contested case hearing under ch. 227.
(4) Departmental duties. The department shall:
(a) Promulgate rules necessary for the administration of this section.
(b) Establish application procedures and determine eligibility.
Section 227.11 (2) (a), Stats., reads: Rule-making authority is expressly conferred on an agency as follows:
(a) Each agency may promulgate rules interpreting the provisions of any statute enforced or administered by the agency, if the agency considers it necessary to effectuate the purpose of the statute, but a rule is not valid if the rule exceeds the bounds of correct interpretation. All of the following apply to the promulgation of a rule interpreting the provisions of a statute enforced or administered by an agency:
1. A statutory or nonstatutory provision containing a statement or declaration of legislative intent, purpose, findings, or policy does not confer rule-making authority on the agency or augment the agency's rule-making authority beyond the rule-making authority that is explicitly conferred on the agency by the legislature.
2. A statutory provision describing the agency's general powers or duties does not confer rule-making authority on the agency or augment the agency's rule-making authority beyond the rule-making authority that is explicitly conferred on the agency by the legislature.
3. A statutory provision containing a specific standard, requirement, or threshold does not confer on the agency the authority to promulgate, enforce, or administer a rule that contains a standard, requirement, or threshold that is more restrictive than the standard, requirement, or threshold contained in the statutory provision.
Related statute or rule
Plain language analysis
The Telecommunication Assistance Program (TAP) as defined by s. 46.297, Stats., subject to the availability of funds, provides assistance to income eligible deaf, severely hard of hearing and deafblind persons to secure telecommunication devices capable of serving their needs. Currently TAP provides co-payment assistance to deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind persons in collaboration with the Telecommunication Equipment Purchase Program (TEPP) offered by the Public Service Commission. Under ch. DHS 78, to receive assistance from TAP, individuals must complete a TEPP application form, making it unclear that TAP is a separate and distinct program from TEPP. Chapter DHS 78 also includes application processing procedures, and eligibility requirements. The processes and procedures currently prescribed in ch. DHS 78 are outdated and do not reflect the program’s current needs and objectives, and may not be accurate. The department proposes to update the rules to clarify the distinction between TAP and TEPP; to clarify eligibility requirements; to revise application and processing requirements; to reflect current program operations; and to reflect the changes in technology available to assist the deaf, deafblind and severely hard of hearing persons that have occurred since the rule was last revised in 2003.
Summary of, and comparison with, existing or proposed federal regulations
There appear to be no existing or proposed federal regulations that address state programs assisting deaf, deafblind, and severely hard of hearing persons with the purchase of telecommunication equipment for their homes.
Comparison with rules in adjacent states
The Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation (ITAC) provides telecommunication equipment to individuals in the state of Illinois that have established telephone service and have their application signed by a medical professional. ITAC is governed by the Illinois Commerce Commission, a Board of Directors and an Advisory Council and is funded through a Telecommunication and Equipment Surcharge that is added to each resident’s phone bill. Title 83: Public Utilities; Chapter I: Illinois Commerce Commission; Subchapter F: Telephone Utilities; Part 755 Telecommunications Access For Persons With Disabilities
Telecommunications Access Iowa provides vouchers for “up to 95% of the average cost of specialized telephone category” for deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech impaired individuals. Typically, devices provided by Telecommunications Access Iowa are specialized items that allow individuals to use the phone, or know when the phone is ringing. Telecommunications Access Iowa will also process 15 applications per month that would allow the individual to receive an iPad for distance communication. Telecommunications Access Iowa is a program that is overseen by the Iowa Utility Board. Iowa Chapter 477C.4 Telecommunications devices for the deaf.
There appears to be no existing regulations in the state of Michigan that assists the deaf, deafblind, and severely hard of hearing persons with the purchase of telecommunication equipment for their homes.
Minnesota’s Department of Human Services oversees the Minnesota Telephone Equipment Distribution program. An individuals’ eligibility is based on their annual gross income. The equipment available through the Telephone Equipment Distribution program includes specialized telephones for the deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech impaired as well as accessories that alert deaf and hard of hearing individuals that a telephone call is being received. Minnesota Rules, Chapter 8775
Summary of factual data and analytical methodologies
The department formed an advisory committee to help develop the proposed rules. The committee met on three occasions to discuss potential impacts of changes to the rule. The committee included stake-holders, customers, and vendors. The department also held regional public listening sessions, to offer the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule changes.