END OF SESSION IS NEAR
 
We are hearing that legislators are hoping to have their business completed and adjourn sine die by July 7, 2017, which would be three days ahead of the constitutionally mandated deadline of July 10th.  In order to do that, they will be working this Saturday, July 1st and they also plan to be working on Tuesday, July 4th.
 
We will keep you informed as to what's happening in Salem until the final gavel falls.  We will also be issuing an end of session report giving a recap of the session soon after session is over!
 
BUDGET REVIEW

As reported in our previous GO! Bulletin, the Human Services Subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means recently finished a work session to review and pass out the Developmental Disabilities budget for the 2017-19 biennium.  The current L egislative Fiscal Office Recommended Budget was reviewed and includes the following actions:
  • Adjustments to account for caseload growth and cost per case changes based on the spring 2017 forecast.  This is expected to result in a budget reduction for Community Developmental Disabilities Programs (CDDPs) and Brokerages.  
  • Eliminates regional programs that support crisis services.
  • Reduces the family support program by half which could affect approximately 500 children and their families.
  • Caps bed hold payments at 21, instead of 45 days. This impacts residential providers when someone they support is not at home because they are visiting family, in the hospital, etc.
  • Identify inactive client records and work with CDDPs to remove clients from the caseload if they no longer need services.
  • Takes a $12.0 million General Fund ($24.0 million total funds) unspecified reduction. It is anticipated that meeting this target will be achieved through implementing the new assessment and other actions that may help curb costs.
  • To help stabilize the Direct Support Professionals work force, legislators included a 5% rate increase for higher DSP wages. 
During the work session, legislators also confirmed that the Fairview Trust will remain intact and will also be protected from being used for any portion of the unspecified $12 million budget reduction that the agency must achieve by next summer.
 
There was one budget note in the DHS budget that pertains to the $12 million "unspecified reduction" in DD Services, which requires DHS to provide interim updates and status reports to the legislature and is described as follows:
  • DHS is directed to take management actions to reduce program spending, pursue alternatives, and implement the new assessment/planning process currently under development no later than June 1, 2018.
  • The program is hoping to achieve budget savings without having to make changes to the "parental income disregard" or other eligibility criteria. However, if the target cannot be met by other actions, the program is directed to bring forward eligibility changes for legislative consideration in the 2017-19 biennium.
  • In addition, prior to taking any action to close state operated residential facilities, the Department will report on its plan for the closure(s); along with budget impacts and a description of how it would affect residents, providers, and employees.
CORRECTION regarding HB 2684
 
In our last GO! Bulletin, we provided updates on several policy bills that are still moving through the legislative process.  Unfortunately, the summary we included on HB 2684 was from an old version of the bill, which could be confusing to some people who aren't closely following discussions on this bill, so we wanted to issue a correction.
 
HB 2684 is the bill that was chosen to consolidate three different bills addressing the wages of direct support professionals.  The outdated summary we included said the bill "established a minimum hourly wage rate of $15 per hour for employees who provide direct care to residents of residential training facility or residential training home."
 
The bill was amended in committee and does not actually describe a specific wage in its present form.  As summarized by Representative Rayfield, "the recommended amendment replaces the original bill and requires that provider rate increases result in comparable wage increases for direct support professionals. It also increases annual licensing fees from $20 to $50, and mandates the submission of a staffing survey to the Department of Humans Services. The additional fee revenue will be used by DHS to provide statewide online training for direct support professionals."
 
To go along with HB 2684, the Department of Human Services budget (SB 5526), in order to help provide higher wages for Direct Support Professionals, contains a $13.5 million General Fund ($45.5 million total funds) increase to give IDD providers a 5% rate increase.  Although this increase is short of the $45 million General Fund advocates were hoping for, this represents a significant investment by the legislature to stabilize this workforce.
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