Medicaid iBudget Waitlist Shrinks As Workers’ Concerns Prolong-WUSF Public Media

Disability Agency

Lawmakers have agreed to spend an additional $ 95 million annually to provide people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with access to the services they need to live outside their communities and institutions. I will.

Proponents said reducing the waiting list for the Medicaid iBudget program is the largest increase in funding in recent history. But they are worried about the labor shortage they say will only get worse as more people qualify for the program unless lawmakers do something about raising the wages of those who serve them. There is.

“We’re very excited about ($ 95 million), which certainly helps remove more individuals from the waiting list than we initially expected,” the Florida Development Disability Council said. Valerie Breen, Secretary-General of the, said. “Behind all of this, there is a 50% vacancy rate for service delivery, so we continue to be very concerned about providers and individuals who directly support these individuals, no matter what the setting. So we are still in danger of a huge provider, and we hope this will also be addressed by the state legislature. “

To address the shortage of service providers, Congress last year included $ 58.4 million in a budget to raise wages for people who provide services such as adult day training. However, Governor Ron DeSantis exercised his veto as part of his nearly $ 1 billion veto when the state tackled the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeSantis did not try to revive the salary increase with a budget bill submitted to Congress in January. Similarly, the salary increase was not included in the $ 101.5 billion spending plan that House and Senate leaders closed on Monday night. Parliamentarians are expected to pass the budget for Friday for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Mark Swain, president and CEO of Alachua County’s Ark, told Florida news services Tuesday that he lacked 25 staff in 17 group homes he runs when the pandemic struck the state. He said he was doing it. Today he has lost 55 employees.

“We are literally in a stage where we can’t work,” Swain said. “If you go five lower than you are now, you have to think about which house you have to close.”

Swain said he wasn’t alone, and the state-wide Ark organization faces a similar shortage. He held responsibility for low wages, saying the state-wide average was $ 9.50.

“People aren’t going to work for salaries anymore and they won’t come back,” he said.

The Disability Agency, which manages the iBudget program, has not commented on the number of people removed from the waiting list after the $ 95 million injection. The budget wasn’t finalized until Friday, agency spokeswoman Melanie Etters said, and the agency “is still analyzing the proposed budget and how it will affect APD and its customers.” ..

Jim De Beaugrine, interim president of The Arc of Florida, continued to expect something he could do to increase payments to iBudget providers and their staff. He is pressing Congress to take advantage of the enhanced Medicaid Fund that the federal government has made available to the state under the US Rescue Planning Act. The law provides for a 10 percentage point increase in the amount of Federal Medicaid dollars to provide home and community-based services from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

Florida is already taking advantage of a separate 6.2 percentage point increase in the Medicaid Foundation, which was first made available by the Trump administration last year at the onset of a pandemic public health emergency. On April 19, the Biden administration extended the emergency for another 90 days, investing another $ 400 million in state funding.

DeBeaugrine estimated that if Florida leverages a higher 10 percent point match for home-based and community-based services, it could qualify for an estimated $ 450 million in additional federal Medicaid dollars.

However, new rules and regulations are associated with money, and the federal government has not published the rules.

R-Fernandina Beach, chairman of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Budget, said the Senate is considering additional funding and whether it can be used as its supporters desire. Similarly, House spokesman Jenna Sarxian said House is awaiting federal guidance.

“These are the new COVID rules we are trying to understand,” Bean said. “We are still trying to get an explanation, so we are actively reaching out to (federal) centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.”

The iBudget program provides people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with access to a variety of services not previously covered by Medicaid or health insurance, such as bathing and changing clothes.

Because iBudget is an optional Medicaid “Exempt” program, the state is not obliged by the federal government to benefit all qualified people. As a result, Florida has a long-standing waiting list with 23,048 participants as of April 1.

Early in the budgeting process, lawmakers agreed to spend $ 15 million to reduce the waiting list. This was a move to remove about 300 people from the list. However, funding levels have been criticized by House Democrats who said the state did not do enough to care for the state’s most vulnerable people.

During the 11-hour budget negotiations on Monday night, the House’s top budget writers offered to bring another $ 80 million to the waiting list, which the Senate accepted.

“I think our advocacy favors people with disabilities …. We’ve been screaming for a while about reducing this waiting list for people with disabilities, but they The call was bigger in this session, “Republican Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith told the Florida news service.

Medicaid iBudget Waitlist Shrinks As Workers’ Concerns Prolong-WUSF Public Media

Source link Medicaid iBudget Waitlist Shrinks As Workers’ Concerns Prolong-WUSF Public Media

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