Testimony relating to H 7225 - Budget Article 9, Section 6

Last updated: March 07, 2024

Testimony relating to H 7225 - Budget Article 9, Section 6
Support for Medicaid Rate Increases for Social and Human Service
House Committee on Finance
February 28, 2024
Divya Nair, Policy Analyst

The Economic Progress Institute supports the Medicaid rate increases for Early Intervention and recommends mandantating the existing rates for First Connections underlined in Article 9, Section 6 of H 7225.

All children deserve access to high-quality education. Early Intervention and First Connections are critical programs that connect families with babies and young children with disabilities and developmental delays to educational and developmental supports.

Rhode Island’s Early Intervention program provides free developmental and educational support for children under the age of three. The proposed rate increase to Early Intervention would address the staffing crisis and extended waiting lists that children and families are currently facing. As of November 2023, there were over 700 infants and toddlers waiting for Early Intervention services for more than 45 days, in violtion of federal and state requirements.1 The proposed rate increase would address the noncompetitive wages and inadequate staffing that have led to these waiting lists and prevented children and families from accessing the supports they need.

First Connections is a home-visiting program that provides holistic, comprehensive, and free services to high risk moms and babies. However, the rate increase for First Connections program in the proposed FY25 budget would reduce resources, causing increased financial challenges and fewer services for new families. We recommend making the existing First Connections Medicaid rates permenant, rather than the rate cut that is currently proposed.

These programs are critical resources for our most vulnerable children and families, and due to a lack of funding they are likely to reduce services. The Economic Progress Institute urges the committee to consider higher rate increases, as well as a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), for both Early Intervention and First Connections programs.

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