URGENT ACTION ALERT ON MINIMUM WAGE AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES!
Last evening (March 24th, 2019), the Senate passed the minimum wage bill with rate increases for DD services that are a good bit higher than those passed by the House of Delegates. The Senate passed increases for FY 21-26 with rate increases at 5%, 5%, 4.5%, 4%, 4% and 3%, as compared to the House, that passed increases at just 3% annually.
HOWEVER, we are VERY concerned about whether the House will accept the Senate rate increases for DD services, and we need everyone to make a full-court press starting now!
We expect that the final decision regarding what rate increases are included in the bill will be decided by a conference committee with significant influence from the leadership of the two chambers. Conference committees are usually comprised of 3 members of the House Committee and 3 members of the Senate Committee, but that is not a rule, so we don’t know yet who will be on the conference committee.
It is critical that rate increases adopted by the Senate prevail, and we are asking you to take action ASAP to help make that happen.
Below is information for this action alert, and attached is background information that may also be helpful, especially for anyone who has not been following this issue closely.
ALSO, we will be asking advocates to come to Annapolis this Monday, March 18th, from 3-8pm, to be a presence as legislators are walking between committee meetings and full chamber sessions. We will send more information regarding Monday to you tomorrow, but please make every effort to join us on Monday! It will be a very busy and unpredictable day because it is the day that is known as “Crossover”, and the House and the Senate will likely be going in and out of committee and full chamber sessions to vote, but we want to have a visible presence, and we will need you with us to make that happen.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
Please call AND email your Delegates (click link for full list), and everyone should ALSO contact the Speaker of the House Mike Busch, regardless of whether he is your delegate— he is the Speaker of the House and represents us all! (firstname.lastname@example.org, 410-841-3800 | 301-858-3800) and tell them:
- people with developmental disabilities are counting on them to save their supports and services
- we need the House of Delegates to support the Senate rate increases for developmental disability services with absolutely no reductions.
Under the Senate version of the bill, DD services receive the highest rate increases, and we have been asked what justifies developmental disability services receiving higher rate increases.
Below are the points we have prepared:
Why are DD services different from other Medicaid providers?
- We have no other substantial source of funding for services other than the Medicaid funds from DDA. The federal government does not allow DD providers to charge fees for Medicaid-funded services. DD services do not have a “private pay” side of their services to complement the Medicaid-funded services.
- 75% of our total workforce earn less than $15 per hour (as compared to other provider groups that indicated in their testimony that 26% of their workforce earn less than $15 per hour).
- People with developmental disabilities receiving supports have a very low employment rate, and have not had a lifetime of work in order to save money to private-pay for their care. Their families have typically spent much of their income caring for their child with a disability and have no funds to pay for private services either.
- DD services are now required by the federal government (CMS) to be provided in the community. Unlike nursing homes, medical day care, and home health, they are required to be go out into the community which requires a higher skill level with no direct supervision.
- DD direct support staff have to be able to manage multiple responsibilities, unlike staff in other types of services. where there are separate staff to provide care, clean, cook, etc. ONE DD STAFF can be required to have ALL of the following skills and responsibilities:
- Manage health and medications
- Support people with behavioral issues that can jeopardize the person’s own safety
- Provide personal care
- Help people get and keep jobs
- Help people manage their benefits and their finances
- Help people build friend and family relationships and deal with sexuality
- Home maintenance, meal prep and housekeeping
The services for 25,000 Marylanders with developmental disabilities will be in jeopardy if the Senate rate increases are not adopted!