On behalf of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) and our entire system, I am tremendously grateful to the direct support professionals (DSPs) that work so hard to support Ohioans with developmental disabilities. Everything we do as a system and as professionals must focus on improving direct care for the people we serve.
To DSPs, I hope you are beginning to realize the seriousness of the department’s commitment to support your important role. You are foundational to our system, and DODD wants you to be supported and feel valued.
Central to these priorities is a budget investment to increase DSP wages and benefits. The largest increase in Ohio history for DSP reimbursement rates was introduced by Governor Mike DeWine and bolstered further by the Ohio Legislature and a financial commitment by our county board of developmental disabilities partners. Included in the budget is a $253 million investment to increase the reimbursement rate component for home and community-based service waiver providers delivering Homemaker/Personal Care (HPC) services (included in the Individual Options, Level One, and Self-Empowered Life Funding waivers) and On-Site/On-Call services.
The first of these increases will be implemented on January 1, 2020, increasing the average HPC DSP reimbursement rate from $11.12 to $12.82, and the On-Site/On-Call rate from $6.09 to $8.55. Then on January 1, 2021, the average HPC DSP reimbursement rate will increase to $13.23.
This is truly a momentous investment, but we also know that there are questions about what this increase means to DSPs and providers. I want to be as clear and transparent as we can about how the rates are structured and how we expect investments to be used.
The reimbursement rate is an average because we have established different “cost of doing business” categories across the state. The reimbursement rate will vary from county to county depending on where the service is provided. On January 1, 2021, some providers will be reimbursed $13.23, some will be reimbursed at a higher amount, and some will be reimbursed at a lower amount, all based on the cost of doing business in that particular county.
Providers are meant to use this reimbursement rate for DSP wages. Like other businesses, there will be variations in wages providers pay, including how they structure their benefits packages and account for overtime and other ways they support their employees.
It is the intent and expectation that all providers receiving these new funds use them in their entirety to improve the compensation package of DSPs. Providers will have flexibility on how they use this investment to support their DSPs. For example, they may choose to increase wages by seniority, merit, or across the board. They may also provide a combination of wage and benefit increases or other creative measures targeted to benefit their DSPs.
The department expects that DSPs will benefit from this increase, and we fully expect to see that the total compensation of DSPs across our state will rise due to this investment. As part of this process and in collaboration with our system partners, the department will be establishing a reporting process to collect data from providers relating to total DSP compensation. The results of this process will be reported to the department and made public.
Again, thank you all for your great work. I hope you know that your state department appreciates each and every one of you.