Individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism (ID/A), their families, and ID/A service providers held a rally on June 28 at the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to increase funding for services and support in the 2023/24 budget. Providers told those assembled in the Capitol rotunda that nearly 60,000 Pennsylvanians are at risk because there are not enough direct support professionals (DSPs) to care for them. Advocates pressed lawmakers to restore the $170 million in funding to invest into fee schedule rates to support DSPs and services.
“Across the state, we are seeing that there is insufficient staff to meet needs or no staff at all,” said Richard S. Edley, PhD, Rehabilitation & Community Providers Association president and CEO. “DSPs are overworked and depleted and have compromised their own health to serve individuals with ID/A. Program closures have eliminated essential services and also affected the health of individuals served. Underfunding a system where individuals and families are already waiting for or losing needed services simply compounds a dire situation. We need to come together to help those in need.”
View news clips and photos of those who advocated at this event for ID/A services funding below.
Penn Watch (Featuring RCPA President/CEO Richard S. Edley, PhD)
“The Collapse is Here”
The ID/A Coalition, comprised of RCPA, The Arc of PA, PAR, and Disability Rights of PA, sent a letter to the members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation to express their support of the $400 billion in funding to strengthen the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) infrastructure and workforce, which supports the states intellectual disability (ID) and autism communities.
The coalition also sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Legislative leaders calling upon the general assembly to immediately release the funds allocated to the state through the American Rescue Plan to provide critical supports to the ID/A community.
The ID/A Coalition is aware that the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has requested a meeting with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to discuss the plan for the American Rescue Plan funds and has requested that CMS advise ODP to continue the enhanced rates that were in effect January 1, 2021–June 30, 2021. In a letter to Daniel Tsai, Deputy Administrator and Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), the Coalition wrote:
“We request that CMS support the continuance of these increased rates, rather than permit the rates to be reduced as proposed. The providers of these services continue to incur increased costs to providing services as a result of the on-going nature of the pandemic. Measures need to be taken in order to prevent the spread of COVID, and providers are dealing with the inability to attract and retain employees to provide these services. The rate was insufficient prior to the pandemic, and the additional stressors to the system have amplified this issue. The continued increased rates are critical to the provider’s ability to provide these important services.”
As we learn how CMS responds to this request, we will share any further information with members.
The ID/A Coalition, along with other provider associations in Pennsylvania who collaborated on the 2018 wage study, is once again asking providers to participate in a survey collecting data from fiscal year 18/19, regarding wages and benefits for staff providing supports to individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism (ID/A). Last year’s study was extremely valuable for our advocacy around the DSP workforce crisis and helped provide the basis of our arguments for wage increases.
This year’s survey will gather information similar to the 2018 survey and will be very important for our FY 20/21 budget advocacy! Please support the efforts of RCPA, MAX, PAR, TPA, The Alliance CSP, The Arc of PA, and UCP of PA by taking the time to complete the survey by Tuesday, September 24, 2019.