NASHVILLE – A proposal raising the rate of reimbursement for professionals providing care to Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens was presented by State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) today during a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee’s Appropriation Subcommittee. Yager presented the $21 million amendment to increase the current reimbursement rate of $8.73 per hour by $1.00 for direct support professionals who provide home and community-based services through the Department of Intellectual Disabilities (DIDD) to stave off serious loss of personnel.
Personal care and home health are among the fastest growing occupations. Home and community-based service providers are experiencing an unprecedented 46 percent turnover rate of direct support professionals as jobs with less stress and responsibility are widely available for higher pay.
“It is the direct support professionals that care for our most vulnerable citizens, those who have intellectual, developmental and age-related disabilities,” said Senator Yager. “This woefully uncompetitive hourly rate has only seen an increase of 48 cents over the last 10 years. Amendment 70 to increase the hourly rate comes at a critical time when the state is being required to meet federal mandates to integrate the intellectually and developmentally disabled into the workforce or risk losing Medicaid funding.”
If the reimbursement rate had risen with inflation since 2006, it is estimated the pay would now be at least $10.16 per hour. The $20 million investment proposed by the amendment is expected to bring in an additional $40 million in federal funds for Tennessee.
“This amendment would have a positive economic impact for Tennessee communities,” Yager added. “But the most important factor is what the increase means to workers who are generally there because they love working with this vulnerable population. They can only do that for so long and provide support for their families or make ends meet. I hope that we will receive a favorable vote to help keep these workers on the job.”
The committee was tasked with hearing appropriations amendments today but will vote on each proposal at a later date which has not yet been scheduled.