The National Save Our Services (S.O.S.) Campaign
Recent changes to Federal law have created a perfect storm of regulations that threaten the ability of community service providers to continue to offer quality supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The most recent proposed change out of the Department of Labor, if finalized as written, will harm the very workers it seeks to protect, creating hardships for the direct support workforce and the people they serve.
Changes to Federal Law Create Unfunded Mandates In July 2015, the Department of Labor proposed to more than double the salary threshold for certain overtime exemptions found within Federal employment law. Though well-intentioned, the proposed Overtime Exemption Rule threatens to put an unreasonable strain on already overstrained providers of community-based support for people with disabilities. Without additional funding, providers will struggle to find money they do not have in order to comply. The essential programs and individualized services they provide, as well as advancement of direct support professionals, will all take a hit and the people with disabilities they serve will suffer.
No Increase in Funding to Cover New Costs Many providers of community services for people with disabilities are funded almost entirely by state and federal Medicaid dollars and have no control over setting their payments, which have failed to increase as operating costs and demand for community-based services have dramatically increased. Providers have almost no margin to absorb cost increases, and so without additional funding, the added costs of the Overtime Exemption Rule would leave many of them with no other choice but to cut the wages of their direct support professionals, creating the opposite of the rule’s intended effect.
Providers Want to Pay Workers More, but Cannot Control Funding Providers want to pay their employees more, but their current funding makes this impossible. The added strain of this proposed rule would force them to cut wages even further just to stay afloat, and this would exacerbate the already serious problem of turnover among direct support providers. Our employees have dedicated their lives to supporting people with disabilities, but every year they are being asked to do more and more with less, and their ability to continue to operate is being threatened.
Congress Must Act NOW to Ensure Funding is in Place to Protect Workers and People with Disabilities We urge Congress to pass legislation to increase Medicaid funding support for providers accordingly so that they can afford to comply with this rule – and other unfunded mandates like it – so that providers can pay their workforce and continue to support people with disabilities.