Federal Legislation Would Allow Payment for Direct Support Professionals During Hospital Stays

NASDDDS is pleased to announce that United States Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) and Tom Emmer (R-MN) have introduced legislation to help people with disabilities exercise greater control during inpatient hospital stays. The bill would allow the option for people receiving community-based supports to continue services from familiar Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) during a period of hospitalization. The Isaiah Baker and Margie Harris-Austin Act would authorize states to reimburse, if they so choose, DSPs’ time supporting individuals during short-term hospital stays under 1915 (c) waiver programs.

“NASDDDS is proud to have played a leading role in raising awareness regarding the critical need for this legislation,” said Mary Sowers, NASDDDS Executive Director. “Our members, representing state directors of developmental disabilities services across the nation, made it very clear the focus must be on the ability to offer flexible and effective supports to meet the real needs of those served. This law change would add an essential tool for states to improve quality of care and long term health outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have experienced a medical crisis.”

Alex Bartolic, President of NASDDDS, and Minnesota’s Director of Disability Services expanded on the potential impact of the bill on quality of life for those supported by stating, “While it may appear to be a small policy change, this legislation will make a critical difference in the lives of so many people served by state home and community based service systems. Too often, we hear stories of people who were in restraint during hospitalizations, or unable to eat, or to communicate with hospital workers because they couldn’t receive support from staff that knew them. Continuity of care also becomes a challenge when people are discharged with follow up needs that haven’t been communicated to staff at home. This legislation will help ensure that Minnesotans with disabilities, and individuals with disabilities all over the country, are able to have successful acute care hospital stays and smooth transitions back to community life.”

The House bill does not yet have a number and its text has not yet been loaded to Congress.gov. A Senate companion bill is expected in the very near future.  NASDDDS will continue to provide member updates as new information is made available.