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Thank you to everyone who has rallied to contact their and Senator for the workforce rate increase and our other important amendments. The Arc is grateful to our Senate champions who filed amendments and for the over 800 individuals who took the time to advocate with The Arc.

The Senate debate is wrapping up, and though we are discouraged by the outcome for many of our amendments, there are some positives both in the senate blueprint and potentially through conference committee.

Positives:

  • Senate Ways and Means increased a number of line items over the Governor’s request – e.g., transportation, technology, autism omnibus, autism children, and allowed for higher spending in MassHealth senior/disability line item.
  • We appreciate the Senate passing Senator Moore’s amendment that allows funding flexibility for unserved families!
  • We are excited to see that Senator Barrett’s Disability Commission amendment also passed favorably (one of The Arc’s priorities bills).
  • The Arc is very pleased with Senator Feeney‘s amendment passing favorably to help us run a pilot for adults on MassHealth who need ABA services (presently MassHealth does NOT fund ABA for adults).

On the downside, the Workforce amendments for Chapter 257 (human services rate reserve) were withdrawn and the MassHealth workforce amendment (to make the 10% ARPA increases permanent) was rejected. The increases to match the House’s DDS line items were also rejected or withdrawn.

The Governor’s allocation for chapter 257 assumes our direct support professionals (DSP) to be paid at $16.79 per hour (the rate that providers receive is based on this hourly pay for all DSPs or direct care workers regardless of time served). This is not a living wage for the important work they do.

Although our advocacy efforts did not succeed for this budget – in terms of our workforce initiative, we will reboot our efforts. Please stay tuned as we take a new direction to address this workforce crisis.

Much work is left to be done as the 2023 budget now goes to conference committee (and later for the Governor’s signature). We will have a final analysis of the budget as it moves into Conference Committee.

Examples for advocacy needed to hold on to the important increases, language, and favorable amendments include:

  • House budget #s on Day/Employment, Transportation, & autism waiver children
  • Senate language regarding
    • flexibility for line items to assist families/isolated individuals
    • ABA Services
    • Disability Commission

Reach out with any questions to Maura at sullivan@arcmass.org and thank you for all your efforts to date.

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