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Advocating for You

posted by Maghan Bowman on Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Disability service providers like Exceptional Persons, Inc. (EPI) are concerned about a proposed rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) that would drastically impact our ability to provide care for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

At EPI, we believe in our vision of working together we will realize a future where all people are recognized and valued - encouraged and supported to live, work, and grow - in their communities. 

To offer high quality support to individuals with I/DD, EPI enlists in a dedicated workforce (of almost 300 people!) that go far beyond basic caregiving to empower people to fully participate in their surrounding communities and networks. Depending on an individual’s needs, the supports provided in Medicaid-funded home and community-based settings can help individuals engage in health advocacy, financial management, housing arrangements, job skill development, and other responsibilities enable them to maintain an independent life.

Direct support professionals, along with our administrative staff, work hard every day to expand the quality and enjoyment of life that individuals with disabilities can experience. While we actively seek to hire and retain a robust workforce, there is only so much we can do when our Medicaid service reimbursements rates are set by the state. 

The DOL has now proposed to increase the nationwide salary threshold for overtime pay by as much as 70%. Without increased funding, providers will have to find ways to offset these new costs and will not be able to maintain our standards for service availability.

This could lead to community-based providers closing down entire services. Other provider organizations have suggested they may have to reduce their staffing numbers, focus on future hiring of entry-level workers, shift salaried employees to hourly pay, or even close facilities.

While questioning how to appropriately compensate workers is progress, jeopardizing the services of persons with I/DD is not the answer. The DOL must collaborate with other stakeholders to determine a path that does not risk cutting care for our vulnerable patient population. The proposed rule is admirable for its intent, but the potential consequences of this policy could inadvertently diminish the support systems it is intended to uphold.

Our staff at EPI will continue to advocate for the people we support, its staff, and other community-based providers like us. Recently, staff have visited Washington, D.C. and the Iowa State Capitol, meeting with members of congress, advocating on your behalf.

We can’t do it alone. Our ability to make an impact relies on our reach and we need your help to make sure our voices are heard. Take a few minutes to participate in the action alert tools provided below. Stay up to date on our public policy efforts, follow us on social or sign up for our electronic newsletters by clicking here.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a significant change in the overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. While the intention to strengthen the nation’s workforce is commendable, the potential repercussions without funding on community-based services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) cannot be understated. Encourage your representative to co-sponsor the Disability Community Act to protect our services - click here.
  • Overtime Rule Media Campaign: help articulate the devastating impact of increased costs for I/DD provers without simultaneously increasing funding for those services and express support for forthcoming legislation to provide increased federal funding to mitigate the impact of the proposed Overtime Rule. How? Raise awareness about the impact of the proposed rule on community providers by writing and placing an op-ed or letter to the editor in your local news outlets - click here for templates.

To stay up to date with our public policy efforts, follow us on social or sign up for our electronic newsletters - here.

About The Author

Quality Improvement & Outcomes Director