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Thank You, Governor Shapiro

Steve Suroviec, Achieva's President & CEO

By Steve Suroviec, President & CEO

Governor Shapiro unveiled his State Fiscal Year 2024/25 executive budget proposal on February 6th and for the Intellectual Disability & Autism (ID/A) service system, it was significant and positive. The proposal includes new funds in the amount of $482 million in both state and federal Medicaid funds to increase reimbursements to community service providers and another $76 million in total state and federal Medicaid funds to serve people with ID/A from the Emergency Need waiting list.

Advocates and service provider groups have hailed the budget proposal. If passed by the legislature, the budget proposal will inject much-needed funds into a community service system that’s been starved of new funds for too long. Inflation in wages, fuel, housing, and employee health care has been skyrocketing during the past several years yet ID/A service providers like Achieva have received only one rate increase from the state government since 2017. Last year, hopes started out high with a new governor and new priorities, yet those hopes were dashed when funding was actually cut in the final budget deal negotiated between the governor and legislature.

But that was then and this is now. Governor Shapiro’s second budget proposal is markedly different. The governor deserves credit for recognizing the ID/A funding problem he inherited and proposing new public dollars to start the process of solving it.

Of course, there are a number of things that remain on the minds of service providers notwithstanding the positive news from February 6th. First, while most observers are cautiously optimistic the legislature will approve the governor’s ID/A budget, there’s always the chance it won’t – we hope the legislature will follow the governor’s lead and adopt the ID/A budget proposal. Second, even with this proposed investment into the ID/A system, it comes after years of flat reimbursements while inflation was rampant, which means a lot of the governor’s proposed increase, if passed, will be used on day one just to cover operational deficits ID/A providers have likely been incurring during recent months/years. And third, if the state follows past practice, it probably won’t increase ID/A reimbursements again for another 3 years, which means unless there’s a commitment from the Shapiro Administration to provide annual increases to cover annual inflation, then service providers will have to budget this year’s increase very conservatively so they can make it through the next three years.

For now, though, the ID/A community is pleased with the priority Governor Shapiro has placed on their services this budget cycle. He deserves great credit for recognizing the problem and making a meaningful commitment of resources to begin the process of solving it. Now, it’s the legislature’s turn to prioritize the ID/A community and pass the governor’s ID/A budget proposal intact.

ID/A community praises Gov. Shapiro’s budget address, actions on addressing system funding
Leading providers say governor’s call for a “systemic fix” has been necessary for over a decade

A joint press release from The Arc of Pennsylvania, the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA), Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (PAR), The Provider Alliance, The Alliance of Community Service Providers, and  MAX Association.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (February 6, 2024) – The intellectual disabilities and autism (ID/A) community today breathed sighs of relief after Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro called for a “systemic fix” to the critical care and support network during his annual budget address. The pledge from Shapiro came after a decade-plus of diminishing state investments and support that left individuals and families without care and support and pushed many providers to the brink of insolvency.
Press Release

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