There are over six million individuals across the United States that are living with either an intellectual or developmental disability. There has been a shortage of direct support professionals (DSPs) for decades but within the last few years, it has reached a crisis level. The crisis is largely attributable to the stagnant reimbursement rates which ultimately lead to providers being unable to offer wages that are competitive in this industry. This crisis has led to understaffed providers leaving individuals unable to access services.
Following a yearlong budget advocacy campaign spearheaded by several organizations representing people with disabilities, their family members, county boards, and private providers, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 33. The House’s version of the state’s operating budget proposed increasing the state’s Medicaid provider reimbursement rates between 10% and 16.5% beginning in 2024. This bill would significantly impact the reimbursement rates in 2024 for several of the services that Ability Works provides. As nonprofits struggle to find staff and pay a livable wage, the passing of this bill is imperative. Our organization has submitted testimony on behalf of the passage of this bill and hopeful that this bill will pass.
Part of the strength of Ability Works is our community partnerships. We have been fortunate to have several local churches – The Chapel, First Christian Church, First Congregational Church, and Faith Church – that have opened their doors and allowed us to volunteer and build relationships that are sustaining and impactful to the individuals we serve. The Chapel hosted our annual Talent Show which showcases the special abilities many of our individuals have and First Christian Church hosted a clothing drive and had bins installed on their property where the donations will go to Ability Works. While these are only two examples of the kindness shown, we are grateful for these relationships.
We also were able to find some new collaborations. Sam’s Club, Walmart, First Energy, and the Lorain Community Foundation are just a few of the businesses that began working with us in these past six months. Sam’s Club volunteered for our golf outing, and we are looking forward to working with them more in the future.
We hope to see everyone at the Sandusky Donut Fest on October 14th at the Jackson Street Pier!
Doreen Ehlert, CEO