A high-quality direct support professional workforce that earns a living wage is essential to providing the necessary support and services to our constituents where they live and work. Medicaid is the primary source of funding for the programs employing these workers. The current Medicaid reimbursement system, cost-cutting actions by state legislatures and Medicaid officials, and recent strides to raise the minimum wage in several cities and states have exacerbated the workforce crisis already hampered by low wages, a lack of affordable health insurance, high turnover, and a shortage of staff. Demand for these workers from private industry and other human services sectors is also high, leading to competition among industries for workers. These problems have been compounded over three decades, leading to a crisis that presents a grave threat to the lives of our constituents and their families.
Millions of people received help from family and unpaid caregivers for health and functioning reasons. These supports are critical and yet we do not have sufficient data for strategic future planning conversations and exploration of community-supported living options and employment goals when family caregivers can no longer provide adequate care.