We heard this morning that states could request a 30-day extension to submit plans on the use of the additional Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) monies. This afternoon, The Arc had a meeting with state leaders and a CMS representative (Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to further review the billions states will receive (approximately $400 million for our state).
We know there is a high demand for funds among individuals, families, and providers. In many states, and it’s especially tough here, home prices and rents press heavily on family budgets. The problem isn’t high taxes: it’s the actual cost of living when it comes to shelter, health care, and food.
But our country is of two minds when it comes to taxes and public programs. Tax cuts win elections. The impact on our services is clear. Our broad disability community eagerly awaits the $400 million for workforce and access. We all know that a one-time investment will not be enough.
We’ve seen the staff shortage for in-home or congregate services. Day programs are delaying the return of participants as recruitment of staff goes slowly during the post-COVID re-opening.
We need a commitment to long-term solutions. We need a significant financial investment by the Commonwealth to increase the entry and mean salary levels of the direct support workforce (and benefits), using a transparent process based on predictable and current data. Let’s provide our citizens with what they need.