PossAbilities pushes for reimbursement based on current economic data

(ABC 6 News) — PossAbilities, a disability support organization in Rochester, used the pandemic to assess the needs of its clients and staff.

They’re excited for this legislative session, executive director Sue Mackert says, because it may offer a chance to increase employee wages, which means better retention. The bulk of PossAbilities’ funding comes from the legislature.

Rep. Liz Boldon authored House File 3100, which would change the prospective salaries for disability staff – a longtime hurdle for service providers.

“We are in a crisis right now – we need to put some measures in place right now to sort of stabilize and be sure people have what they need, and at the same time we need to be having conversations about what are the longer-term solutions for the system so we don’t continually find ourselves in this crisis that we’re in," Boldon said.

The bill proposes adjustments to the Disability Waiver Rate System, which determines wages and benefits for the providers of disability waiver services. HF 3100 uses current economic data to update reimbursement, instead of data that Mackert said is “outdated by several years.” Mackert said PossAbilities faces a huge challenge in terms of hiring and retaining the staff needed to give people with disabilities the care they deserve.

Disability support providers need to be competitive in a healthcare system that is desperate for more workers across almost all areas, she added.

“We are growing pragmatically but when I look at the waiting list, that keeps me awake at night ‘cause these are individuals that need to be here,” Mackert said. “We saw the impact on the individuals during the pandemic, we saw the physical and well-being issues being really challenged by our individuals and by parents."

In February, Mackert was appointed to the Waiver Reimagine Advisory Committee, a state-level position that will allow her to help develop policies and procedures to help individuals with disabilities and their caretakers.

She is one of only a few leaders in Southeast Minnesota on the committee.