Over 55,000 Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism (ID/A) need some assistance during the day to reach their highest level of independence. These people and their families rely upon our committed Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to support some of the most personal tasks and make sure they live safely while engaging in the community. Often, our DSPs become like family to their clients.
Sadly, if you looked at the pay DSPs receive in Pennsylvania, you would not know how critical they are to those who need their services. Despite the best efforts of many, some great staff leave the profession due to necessity in order to support themselves and their families. This leads to very high staff turnover and unmanageable position vacancies that significantly impact services for Pennsylvanians who experience intellectual disabilities and autism.
Current law requires a three-year refresh of market-based data in order to evaluate the sufficiency of a fee schedule, but there is no requirement for Pennsylvania to change rates at all - no matter what happens to inflation. Even with the most recent rate proposal for FY2022, the updated rates remain insufficient when you consider inflation. For many providers, even a small inflationary increase often has troubling ramifications.
To help stabilize this workforce and provide better care for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, Representative Dan Miller and Representative Brandon Markosek introduced House Bill 92 modifying the Human Services Code requiring that rates annually be set based on a national market consumer index. The adoption of a nationally recognized market index will help provide stability to this system, and also support the hard-working DSPs that are essential to the delivery of services for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism.
During the COVID-19 emergency, these workers went above and beyond to make sure some of Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens are cared for and not isolated, even at risk to themselves.
Help us show appreciation for our DSPs by indexing fee schedule rates to inflation in order to provide greater pay and predictability for these deserving workers in this field.