HSC’s 2020 Annual Meeting last week featured discussion with Ohio State Reps. Brigid Kelley (D) and Scott Lipps (R) about the need to increase pay for workers in the human services sector by increasing state reimbursement rates. The State of Ohio funds services for seniors and people with disabilities, along with child care workers and other providers based on a certain wage rate for its workers (the reimbursement rate). In many cases, reimbursement rates have remained stagnant over many decades and do not reimburse the organization for the actual cost of providing the service. As a result, workers are paid less than a living wage, organizations have a high turnover of staff, and the quality of services for our most vulnerable citizens suffers.
In a room of 60+ HSC members, State Rep. Brigid Kelley (D) and State Rep. Bob Lipps (R) advised the process by which reimbursement rates were increased for some workers in the developmental disabilities sector in the 2020 biennial budget. Wages for these workers increased from $11.12 to $12.82 at the beginning of 2020 and will raise again to $13.23 in 2021.
The amount that organizations are reimbursed by the state to pay their workers has been an increasing challenge throughout the human services sector. Low reimbursement rates impact the ability of human services organizations to attract and retain quality talent to provide services for their clients and customers. In many cases, the pay of workers is so low that the workers themselves qualify for the services they provide to others. Though there has been success in the developmental disabilities sector, state reimbursement rates for many other workers also need to be increased.
It was refreshing to hear that these legislators from different sides of the political aisle work together on many issues such as reimbursement rates for human services workers. HSC will continue to create more awareness around this issue in the months to come.