HB 166, “As introduced” version
The Ohio General Assembly introduced HB 166, Governor Mike DeWine’s proposed state budget for the 2020 – 2021 fiscal biennium. Throughout budget hearings by the House Finance Committee on Health and Human Services, several key priorities of the budget were discussed that will have a local impact in Summit County. The state’s budget priorities include investing in the direct service professional workforce, investing in children, investing in community transportation, investing in youth with complex needs, and investing in the quality of our system.
Investing in Our Direct Service Professional Workforce
A shortage in the direct care workforce is a critical issue across the state and in Summit County. Employers right here in Summit County are approaching 60 percent turnover rates, creating hardships for private disability service providers and families who are trying to find coverage. The Medicaid reimbursement rate currently compensates direct care staff at an average of $11.12/hr and is not reflective of the demanding nature of the job, nor the competitive labor market.
Summit DD, along with the other county boards in the state, has partnered with the state to address this critical issue to invest jointly in raising hourly rates of direct care workers. In the current budget proposal, with state and local dollars, the base rate for homemaker personal care direct support professionals will increase approximately 11 percent over the biennium. These are not county board employees, but employees of local disability service providers. Upon implementation of the rate increases, these providers will complete a mandatory survey about their base wages and the results for each agency will be available to the public. This level of transparency will ensure that the rate increases make their way to the direct support professionals paychecks.
For Summit County, this investment of $3.2 Million in state dollars will draw down another $5.6 Million in federal dollars for a total of $8.8 Million additional dollars that are reinvested into the local economy right here in Summit County. These workers provide critical support to help more than 2,000 adults with disabilities who rely on these residential supports in Summit County.
Investing in Children
Summit County uses evidenced-based early intervention practices to give children the best start in life, understanding that they learn best through everyday experiences with people they know. That’s why the Agency takes a consultative approach and works directly with families to develop and implement a plan that is unique to each family’s needs.
Summit County, like Ohio, has experienced growth in the number of Early Intervention referrals and the number of children served since 2014. During that same time period, state funding has remained flat. This budget increases funding for these vital services for more than 1,000 children in Summit County and expands eligibility to include lead exposure and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
Investing in Community Transportation
Nearly 2,000 adults with disabilities in Summit County rely on transportation service providers to get them to where they need to go. At the time the rate structures were developed for transportation services, providers typically carried large numbers of people to and from a single location. This service needs to be modernized to become more and agile, empowering people with disabilities to become more involved in their community and to have more flexibility to get community jobs. The additional investment in transportation services will allow stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to operate smaller vehicles for person-centered transportation.
Investing in Youth with Complex Needs
Summit DD works collaboratively with Children’s Services Board, ADM Board, Juvenile Courts, the Department of Health and several other systems as the county experiences a rise in the number of youth who have complex needs and are typically involved with multiple systems. Summit DD has been the recipient of state grants to develop innovative solutions to meet these needs.
The state budget invests in our county’s youth and families to prevent or reduce out-of-home placements, prepare for a successful transition back home when respite services are needed and to build overall provider capacity.
Investing in Quality
While the direct support professional wage increase works to attract and retain a qualified workforce, wages are just one piece of the puzzle to ensure overall quality in our system. Summit DD supports more than 400 providers in Summit County with training, technical support, and compliance monitoring. In addition, Summit DD completes investigations into allegations of abuse or neglect and works directly with law enforcement officials on allegations that are criminal in nature.
The state budget provides Summit DD and the other county boards with more tools to take immediate actions to protect individuals where health and safety are at risk. Provisions of the state’s budget allow the Director of Developmental Disabilities to immediately suspend a provider’s certification, using a summary suspension process, when there is serious noncompliance or substantial risk to the health and safety of a person.
The proposed budget also works to ensure fiscal accountability of each county board. Provisions in the proposed budget will require Summit DD, and each county board, to submit a five-year projection of revenues and expenditure to ensure long-term financial sustainability. Summit DD prepares and reviews long-term financial projections with the Board members and the county’s Social Service Advisory Council, however, this provides one additional layer of scrutiny on these projections.
The 2020-2021 fiscal biennium budget invests in our local workforce and the local economy. It invests in our children. It also takes steps to eliminate barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully engaging in our community.
Lawmakers will resume budget discussions when they return from Spring Recess in late April when the full House Finance Committee will vote on the amended bill. The full House will vote on the budget in early May before it moves to the Ohio Senate.
To express your support of this budget contact your local representative here. Check back on SummitDD.org for updates on amendments during the budget process.