Updates from the Capitol

March 1, 2021
Advocacy

House Bill 92: Updating Fee Schedule Rates for DSPs

On January 11, Representative Dan Miller and Representative Brandon Markosek—with the support of several other members of the General Assembly—introduced House Bill 92 (HB92) which will require fee schedule rates for intellectual disability and autism (ID/A) programs to be set annually on a nationally recognized market index.

“[This] bill is needed to ensure that funding for [ID/A] programs [are] not penalized by a rate system that fails to keep pace with inflation and other continually escalating costs of living,” said Gary Blumenthal, InVision’s vice president of government relations and advocacy. “If enacted, HB92 would enable [disability services] providers to adjust [DSP] wages on an annual basis and give them the funds to do so.”

According to the legislation, this method of updating the rates is “less costly and more efficient” than the current process and “will produce better outcomes, higher wages, and increased capacity to address the waiting list for services for individuals with an intellectual disability or autism.”

House Bill 92 would provide much-needed stability to an industry that was already struggling to support its hard-working DSPs before being rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting this bill is a key priority for InVision Human Services.

Memorandum for House Bill 547: Creating the “Department of Accessibility and Inclusion”

Disability issues are currently dispersed among three departments within the Pennsylvania government: Human Services, Health, and Labor and Industry. Rep. Miller—supported by Representative Jessica Benham—believes that the creation of the Department of Accessibility and Inclusion, through a memorandum to House Bill 547 (HB547) introduced on February 5, would result in more effective, focused, and better funded disability programs in the Commonwealth by consolidating existing programs into one department.

“[The memorandum to HB547] represents an effort … to ensure that disability issues have a stronger presence in the office of the governor,” Mr. Blumenthal said. This proposed department would introduce a permanent cabinet secretary position whose sole focus would be disability issues.

“[This department] means disability issues would have a stronger advocate within state government,” Mr. Blumenthal added.

Rep. Miller’s reasoning for the memorandum states:

“Nearly one in four Pennsylvanians have a disability, and despite the best intentions of many, most have only seen modest improvements in their lives and opportunities. Too many remain underserved, underemployed, on waiting lists, or otherwise struggling to obtain greater independence or to maximize their skills effectively.”

The memorandum goes on to compare this effort to a similar cabinet expansion for the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and highlight a case study from Maryland where the creation of a Secretary of Disabilities position helped their governor “craft much-needed policies that consider people with disabilities at every step.”

The Provider Alliance: 2021 Legislative Appreciation and ID/A Awareness Forum

The Provider Alliance is hosting its annual Legislative Appreciation and ID/A Awareness Forum (virtually) on April 23 from 9:00-10:30 a.m. This forum will discuss "critical issues involving individuals with intellectual disability and autism, families, and providers who are committed to supporting Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens."

Image courtesy of The Provider Alliance

The Provider Alliance invites all members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to join and learn more about these important issues, including the proposed bills from Rep. Miller. Several members are already confirmed to attend, so please consider reaching out to your local representatives and encourage them to participate in this vital discussion.

RSVP to information@provideralliance.org.

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