Let’s get serious about ending prudent pay in Pennsylvania | Opinion

Lawmakers should pass the bill before the end of the year

Direct service providers rally for more money in the 2022-23 state budget at the Pennsylvania state Capitol on May 24, 2022 in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Direct service providers rally for more money in the 2022-23 state budget at the Pennsylvania state Capitol on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

By Cherie Brummans

​​I am writing today to plead the case for House Bill 2530, legislation introduced by Republican state Rep. Jason Silvis , whose district includes parts of Westmoreland, Armstrong, and Indiana counties. In this age of hyper-partisanship, I want to emphasize how encouraging it is that I, the executive director of a Philadelphia human services trade association, am on the same page with a Republican from western Pennsylvania.

“How is this possible?” you might ask.

Well, Silvis’ bill would permanently end the currently suspended practice by the Department of Human Services’ Office of Developmental Programs (or ODP) known as “Prudent Pay,” which, ironically enough, would be a prudent decision.

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Prudent pay is a practice in Pennsylvania whereby a portion or all of the total remittances to Intellectual disability and Autism (ID/A) providers is withheld for 30 days or longer after a claim is submitted. Now, to those working outside the ID/A field, a 30-day turnaround time might seem fine, but when you consider that the average provider has less than three days of cash on hand, thirty days is entirely too long.

In 2020, Prudent Pay and other practices were suspended to assist providers in sustaining operations during the pandemic.

We know that most of those practices will return at the end of the federal public health emergency (PHE); however, one exception should be Prudent Pay which we believe should be eliminated.

It’s the least we can do for a chronically underfunded service delivery system. ID/A providers, who have been struggling to make ends meet for decades, are now facing record-high inflation, more extreme workforce shortages than usual, and the ongoing safety concerns of serving a particularly vulnerable population in the age of COVID-19.

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The legislation is currently in the Pennsylvania Senate Health and Human Services committee. There is no downside to eliminating the practice of Prudent Pay, but it sure is an essential step toward investing in the financial stability of Pennsylvania’s ID/A providers.

The Alliance of Community Service Providers and other advocates hope that ending this practice will prompt a discussion about how to strengthen the human services system in Pennsylvania. Addressing low reimbursement rates and burdensome regulations would be a great start.

Lawmakers should pass the bill before the end of the year.

Cherie Brummans is CEO & Executive Director of The Alliance of Community Service Providers, a trade association of human service agencies in Philadelphia. Its 75-plus members and associate members serve individuals and their families in behavioral health, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and intellectual disability and autism.

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Capital-Star Guest Contributor
Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The Pennsylvania Capital-Star welcomes opinion pieces from writers who share our goal of widening the conversation on how politics and public policy affects the day-to-day lives of people across the commonwealth.