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Thank you to House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, Vice Chair Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Assistant Vice Chair Representative Pat Haddad, and Committee Members for the positive budget for individuals with disabilities.

$200 million for day programs in MassHealth is in the House Ways and Means Budget, as are Department of Developmental Services (DDS) budget investments.  The day habilitation (day hab) funds should assist in the transition back to full service.

However despite the good news, you can help to urge the legislature language to expand its language in Day/Employment Account – 5920-2025 so that assistance can be given to those still waiting during the transition (it’s been 37 months so far for some of the thousands waiting).

We ask for account transfer capability as in FY’2023, adding DDS eligible participants waiting for MassHealth Day in language, and funding an additional $5.6 million for those requiring 1:1 support in 5920-2025.

Our amendment request is based on key facts:

  1. Our workforce crisis in disability services (DDS and MassHealth)  is severe, and worsened by the pandemic.
  2. Officials note that in one case, we are nearly at pre-COVID day services utilization, while in another service, we are still significantly below the numbers attending in March 2020.
  3. We all know at least 3,900 have graduated high school at age 22 years and many have need for continued day services and allied health therapies.
  4. Thus, many individuals and families (thousands when one includes T22) are experiencing anywhere from month 12 to month 37 of the impact.
  5. The largest sub-group (1,000-2,500?) who have not been served since March 2020 are those who need 1:1 support part or all of day.

Addressing workforce compensation through rates is essential.  If the increases help to recruit staff, we still will have had one year or more where individuals continue to regress at home, be isolated, families (or some other caregivers) experience continued 24/7 responsibility, and increased emergency room use (boarding).

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