Dear Friends of ACT,

Mark Hassemer

Mark Hassemer

Last November, I wrote here what one reader called a “zinger” about my frustration with an unjust rate setting methodology for services ACT and other agencies provide. It rewarded recent entries to Individualized Supported Living with higher rates.

Earlier this year, in March, I wrote again about rate rebasing and how it could meet the critical need we and other agencies like ACT have as we continue to provide services. That letter included a history of attempts to correct the problem that were rebuffed by a veto and budget withhold. We returned to the Capitol to ask legislators and others to correct this error.

The legislature heard the call for rebasing, adjusting rates in a way that levels at least some of the uneven playing field. Their rebasing legislation became law and survived the pitfalls we experienced before.

Now, new money is coming in. ACT employees and the individuals they support are benefitting.

The timing of rebasing has been critical for ACT. It has allowed us to increase wages for all staff, including Direct Service Professionals, who provide support to over 400 individuals each year.

Recruiting new employees has improved. We’re now able to compete better for staff in our area.

Data indicate, though the time period is short, that employee retention is increasing.

Rebasing has also helped us move toward compliance with the new Overtime Rule.

Overall, given our new rates, ACT has become more stable financially, less vulnerable to changes that always occur. This has allowed us to direct our energies to the development of future programs and services, rather than focusing on what felt like short-term survival tactics.

We’ve experienced a noticeable boost in morale. And we’ve seen a positive impact on the quality of services we provide to individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

Don Lafferty, Director of Community Living, told me that had these rate rebasing funds not arrived when they did, some individuals with particularly challenging behaviors would have been considered for discharge.

Brian Tveitnes, our Director of Human Resources, reported that one employee who originally declined employment here returned and is now working as a DSP. This was made possible by the new wage and salary schedule adopted after rate rebasing.

Craig Valone, Director of the Day Program, sees his staff not coming in to pick up extra hours. This is a good thing! We’re seeing them achieve greater work/life balance, which we expect will significantly reduce burnout.

I’m thankful for these new funds. Rate rebasing has been good. It’s not perfect, but good. We still have progress to make before we fully achieve the end goal rates that were established in Missouri for all services. (In fact, an independent analysis of Missouri’s rates is being conducted by Mercer, which will take into account the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics wage range for comparable positions, based on Missouri-specific wages.)

Let’s continue to always improve the way we support these valued individuals in our community.

The next time I write here, Thanksgiving will be behind us. We have so much to be thankful for, including this change and the positive impact rate rebasing is having on our ACT Community.

Until next month,

Mark