A group of disability service providers and advocacy organizations has launched a campaign urging Ohio legislators to approve a big increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rates that fund wages for direct-support professionals.
Because DSP pay has been so low for so long, Ohio’s developmental disability workforce crisis has worsened throughout the state, the coalition said:
* Providers can’t retain sufficient workers.
* People with disabilities can’t get the support they need.
* Family members are quitting jobs to provide care.
* Businesses that provide care and support are closing.
Organizers have posted details and videos at www.ohioddcrisis.com, including links for people to sign an online petition and to share their own stories about how the problems have affected them.
Gov. Mike DeWine recently introduced a budget proposal that would invest an historic $701 million in support for Ohioans with developmental disabilities and result in a $16-per-hour average reimbursement for the rates that pay DSP wages. But the Ohio Association of County Boards, the Ohio Provider Resource Association and others say it isn’t enough.
“We certainly support the effort, and we also are very appreciative of the governor’s initial proposal,” said Jed Morison, Superintendent/CEO of the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “It’s too bad that for so many years, there was little to no increase in these rates. We fell behind.”
Kim Kelly, a Franklin County parent who serves on the Ohio DD Workforce Crisis Taskforce, said advocates should strive to ensure that the funding goes into the pockets of front-line workers and leads to improved services. “It will be important to know how the money is being spent, to look at training and also who’s coming into the field,” Kelly said. “We need to attract the right people.”