The State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2022

The longstanding direct support workforce crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to closures of critically needed services and a denial of access to community-based supports.
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Connections - 03.29.21

COVID Relief Deep Dive: Protecting People with Disabilities from its Devastating Impacts

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by Dr. Maulik Trivedi, MD, Chief Strategy Officer, StationMD

 Dr. Maulik Trivedi, StationMDThere are two new developments from this month that are impacting people with disabilities across the country, and knowing what to do with this information could save lives.

  1. The New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst published a study on March 5 about the devastating impact COVID-19 has on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
  2. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed into law on March 11 will help protect people with I/DD from COVID-19

Let’s first talk about the study.

The conclusion of the study is that having an intellectual disability is the strongest independent risk factor, other than age, for COVID-19 mortality. This means that those who are most at risk of dying from COVID-19 are elderly people. Next to that, it’s people who have an intellectual disability.

In fact, the chances of dying from COVID-19 are higher for those with an intellectual disability than they are for people with congestive heart failure, kidney disease or lung disease.

ANCOR partners and affiliates should be aware of these alarming findings.

But now you might be asking, “What can I do about this?” As an emergency physician with a particular interest and training in I/DD, here’s my first piece of advice: remain vigilant about protecting yourself and loved ones from COVID-19. Stay at home when possible, and get your services delivered in your home when possible.

And I get it—that’s easier said than done. However, the passage of the American Rescue Plan could provide funding and resources to help.

Next, let’s consider how the resources provided by the COVID-19 relief plan could (and should) help people with IDD stay at home. The American Rescue Plan made 12.67 billion more dollars available for states to spend on Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), so people with I/DD don’t have to leave home to receive the care they need. The HCBS program provides Medicaid-funded opportunities for people to receive services in their own home or community.

This means if you need to see a doctor when you’re sick, you could receive medical care via telemedicine from home. If you need a doctor to refill your prescription in a pinch, you could do it from the comfort of your home. If you’re a family member or DSP who oversees someone’s care and you need an urgent medical question answered, this could be covered, too.

Anytime people with I/DD leave home, not only could they be exposed to COVID-19, but the entire ecosystem of support professionals and family members who may be involved with their care are at-risk.

My last piece of advice: use your resources and make your voice heard.

There are two basic steps for leveraging the COVID-19 relief plan resources. First, identify what your needs are so you can seek the services that will meet your needs from home. Second, determine if you have any needs that are not being met that you can voice to your state advisor to help you access from home.

Be vocal about your needs. Policymakers can meet your needs when they understand what your needs are—and they will understand that best if they hear it from you.

About Dr. Maulik Trivedi, MD, FACEP, Chief Strategy Officer, StationMD

Dr. Maulik M. Trivedi is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician in practice for over 20 years. He has served as the chairman or associate chair of several emergency departments and has been an integral part of the core leadership of Emergency Medicine provider groups in the NYC region. He’s a founding partner of StationMD, a physician practice that delivers medical care specifically to people with disabilities using telemedicine. Dr. Trivedi has been instrumental in helping StationMD achieve its mission of improving the quality of care for the IDD population. Dr. Trivedi is a national speaker who’s been featured on news programs and podcasts, and he’s a recognized thought leader on the use of technology and telehealth solutions to positively impact an individual’s medical care and foster independence. He continues to practice as an ER doctor in the NYC area. He has a special interest in applying tech solutions to keep both individuals and staff safe during the COVID-19 crisis. He and his family currently live in midtown Manhattan.