Several state agency officials presented details of the investment plan for proposed uses of the home and community-based services enhanced match, including provider rate increases, to the Aging, Human Services and Appropriations committees last week. Under the plan, HCBS waiver providers will receive a one-time estimated 5% stabilization payment to be paid in the third (current) quarter, which the OPM Secretary said can be used for investments in the workforce (retention bonuses or new hires); 1.7% across-the-board rate increase, authorized under the new state budget, effective July 1, 2021; and supplemental rate funding.
Additionally, officials indicated approval by CMS may take longer than expected, perhaps due in part to the fact that the Department of Social Services submitted its proposal 30 days after it was due, with an extension granted (rate increases are still retroactive to July 1); and rate increases allocated through the plan are in addition to the minimum wage increase for waiver services (the August. 1 increase in rates will be 6% for applicable services, according to the plan). HCAOA Connecticut was specifically cited as a key stakeholder in the process that informed officials on the challenges confronting providers and clients, and its advocacy is mentioned in the plan.
Additionally, the state auditors are recommending that Connecticut law be amended to require prospective employees of HCAs to submit to state and national criminal background checks and prohibit the hiring of employees with certain criminal convictions. The agency, in its performance audit of Protective Services for the Elderly, found that background checks for caregivers are inadequate and permit the hiring of employees with certain criminal convictions that could be harmful to elders. This would require a FBI background check, which would include fingerprinting of caregivers. HCAOA Connecticut and many individual providers argued that the requirement, in a bill proposed by the Department of Consumer Protection before the legislature last spring, could lead to significant and costly delays of placing caregivers in clients’ homes and put elderly persons at risk. A legislative committee removed the provision from the bill before an expanded background check requirement was approved.