Home > Uncategorized > UPDATE: Senate budget amendment is redrafted to require that provider funding go to direct care workers

UPDATE: Senate budget amendment is redrafted to require that provider funding go to direct care workers

After COFAR questioned a state Senate budget amendment earlier this week that would provide almost $600 million in funding to corporate human services providers without requiring that any of that funding be spent to boost wages for direct care workers, we’ve learned that the amendment was redrafted yesterday to include that requirement.

According to the redraft of Amendment 466, any human services provider receiving funding under a budgetary provider reserve account must direct at least 75% of that funding to compensation for “direct care, front-line and medical and clinical staff.”

Amendment 466, which has been filed by Senator Adam Gomez, Senate chair of the Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilites Committee, would also increase the provider reserve account from $79 million to $581.6 million in Fiscal Year 2023.

The direct care compensation requirement in Senator Gomez’s redrafted amendment is now identical to language adopted by the Senate Ways and Means Commitee last week with regard to the reserve account, known as the Chapter 257 account.

In a blog post on Tuesday, COFAR reported that the original draft of Gomez’s amendment would significantly raise the reserve account level while eliminating the 75% direct care wage funding requirement. The redrafted amendment both raises the reserve account level and includes the 75% requirement.

On Monday, I had sent an email to Senator Gomez and his staff, which was based on the original language in Amendment 466. In my message, I said we were concerned that without specific language requiring that funding in the reserve account be used for direct care wages, there is little or no assurance that adoption of his amendment would lead to higher wages for those workers.

No one from Gomez’s office has yet responded to my email. But we were informed yesterday that the senator’s office had redrafted the amendment to include the 75% funding requirement, and that the requirement had reportedly been left out of the orignal draft “by mistake.”

The redraft of Amendment 466 is available on the budget page of the Legislature’s website.

Senator Gomez’s redrafted amendment would still add more than $350 million to the amount approved for the provider reserve account by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The Ways and Means Commmittee approved $230 million in funding for the account for the coming fiscal year — the same amount proposed by Governor Baker and approved by the House last month.

Based on a request by a coalition of provider organizations, Senator Gomez’s amendment would  bring the total reserve account funding to $581.6 million.

The Senate is scheduled to vote next week on the budget for Fiscal Year 2023 and on amendments filed to it.

Under the Senate Ways and Means budget plan, the 75% funding provision would appear to require that $173 million in the reserve account be directed by human services providers to boost direct care wages.

Based on the much larger funding total in Senator Gomez’s amendment, the amount directed to direct care wages would appear to be $436 million.

All of this still leaves a number of questions. For instance, how much would the $436 million funding requrement actually boost direct care, front-line, and medical and clinical staff wages? Is the 75% language sufficient to ensure that the money would indeed go to those workers?

As we reported earlier this week, both the state inspector general and the state auditor have found that controls are needed over spending by the providers to ensure that the funding goes to direct care workers.

In the House, a budget amendment, which was rejected last month, would have required that the providers sign a form attesting to a plan for spending the reserve account funding. Neither the Senate Ways and Means language nor Senator Gomez’s amendment contain that attestation requirement.

It’s also the case that while the Senate now will approve a 75% funding requirement regarding the reserve account, there is no such requirement in the House version of the budget. So a House-Senate conference committee will have to decide whether the 75% provision stays in the final budget.

But even with those questions surrounding it, we still support the 75% funding provision, and hope it stays in the final budget.

  1. Thomas J. Frain, President, COFAR, Inc.
    May 19, 2022 at 10:25 am

    And they should add language that until all direct care workers are making at least $25.00 per hour, no provider gets a dime – especially the hundreds of corporate executives getting wealthy off of this line item when the voters and tax payers meant it for the benefit of people with Intellectual Disabilities.

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  2. Sara
    May 19, 2022 at 10:41 am

    Good point. Most of us know that whatever is allotted to these agencies their salaries are the first to benefit from it. Whatever is leftover is what the worker gets.

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  3. Barbara Hooks-Neill
    May 19, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    Something has to be done. My son is on a waiting list for a group home. I know for a fact that some of them have closed. My son is 36 years old, and I want him to be as independent as possible and live among his peers. Everyone deserves to be happy.

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  4. Tom Davis
    May 19, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you.
    At Amego, while my autistic son is regressing, AMEGO blames it on staffing shortages caused by the slim margin between minimum wage and the care worker cap. Yet Amego received significant fund to buy real estate. They also hired a $50000 secretary to go to board meeting. Go figure, DDS needs to be on the front page of the Globe for their corrupt and incompetent use of tax payers money as well as the human damage they cause. Maybe our elected officials should do their jobs.

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  5. Carol Kenner
    May 22, 2022 at 9:03 pm

    Excellent analysis. Thank you.

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