By Gregory Miller
President/CEO Penn-Mar Human Services
Last week both the U.S. House and Senate laid the groundwork to repeal the Affordable Care Act. No one, including those of us at Penn-Mar, knows exactly how all of this will play out in terms of how new healthcare legislation might impact the individuals with disabilities that we support.
I do know that change of any kind can promote fear and concern. And when you entangle those emotions with misinformation and doomsday headlines, you create a perfect storm of anxiety.
At Penn-Mar, we don’t operate out of fear and never will. Instead, we believe that the role of leadership is to navigate through the reality of what we have to face, live in the world of what is — not what we wish it could be — and advocate strongly for the change we want to see.
No doubt we have some challenging realities in front of us.
But we’re not standing still.
We are currently meeting with our elected officials to educate them about the important services that Penn-Mar provides, the ever-increasing cost of providing those essential services, and the need to continually train and fairly compensate the Dedicated Support Professionals (DSPs) who make our work possible.
I also serve on the Board of PAR leading their employment work group. As many of you know, PAR is a nonprofit that represents home and community-based service providers in Pennsylvania. You can be assured that this organization will be working tirelessly to see that the individuals we support in Pennsylvania will continue to receive the person-centered services they require.
Penn-Mar operates in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. Funding for the services we provide is different from state-to-state, so there is no one rate structure or formula for what funding will be available to us going forward. But in Pennsylvania we are expecting a complete funding realignment for how services will be paid.
The healthcare services our individuals receive are not covered by the Affordable Care Act, but rather by Medicaid. The headlines have been very misleading in this regard and I don’t foresee the Republican majority un-insuring 6 million people or jeopardizing Medicaid health care coverage to the individuals who need it most. Imagine those headlines!
It is important, now more than ever, that families and advocates for people with disabilities contact their representatives at both the state and local levels to keep up the pressure to put the rights and needs of our individuals on the front line. (contact information for representation in both Maryland and Pennsylvania are included below).
We at Penn-Mar will be taking the lead to ensure that every elected representative clearly understands what we do and who it affects, and what can happen if the critical supports we provide are not in place. Together, let’s advocate for what should be and never back away from that goal.