Early Intervention programs advocating for higher reimbursement rates

EI professionals are paid 30% less than their peers

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) - There is a community wide push to keep therapist from leaving Early Intervention Programs. 

The issue they have been battling for years is higher wages. 

According to the state, in 1996 Early Intervention Programs were reimbursed $94 per hour of service. 

In 2011, that was down to $86 an hour, despite increasing operating costs. 
  
News 8 made a visit to the Cimino family who depends on Early Intervention Programs. Their son Dante Cimino at six months old was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder, schizencephaly. 

"It was horrifying initially. You just got put it behind you and make a plan," said Dante's father, Joe. 

Julie and Joe Cimino enlisted the help of Step By Step Developmental Services in Henrietta. They offer early intervention. That's where physical therapist like Dr. Hilary Hecht come in.  

"Let's say a kiddo is not rolling, we come in and teach the families. That's really the big part of early intervention," said Hecht.

The program is mandated by the Federal Government. The state and Monroe County reimburse agencies for providing these services.

Pia Stamped owns Step by Step. She tells News 8 over the past five years 10-15 therapists have left for better paying jobs. 

"It's very difficult to run a business cost are increasing all the time. We cannot pay our staff a fare salary based on their education," said Stamped.

Heather Hanson also with Step by Step is helping to advocate for higher reimbursement rates. She started by meeting with staff for State Senator Rich Funke. 

"What we explained is that even though the funding is there the rates that are set by state have decreased since 2003," said Hanson.

Even parents are sending letters with pictures of their kids detailing how important these these types of services are. 

Hecht has chosen her career not because of the money it's because of kids like Dante. 

Step by Step has proposed restoring reimbursement rates to what they were in 2003. We reached out to New York State Senator Rich Funke and he sent us this response. 

“Early Intervention Programs (EIP) are funded through the Department of Health (DOH) whose budget needs to be approved by the Senate and Assembly. Over the last three enacted budgets, the legislature has collectively voted to increase appropriations from $163.6 million to $175 million to the DOH for EIP. Let me be clear, reimbursement rates are not set by the legislature, they are set by DOH, and have been frozen at $86 per hour since 2011 despite these increases in appropriations. In 2003 reimbursement rates were set at a much higher $97 an hour, which is why that year was a point of discussion in my recent meeting with Step by Step. The Senator supports an increase in hourly reimbursement rates for providers and will continue to advocate for it. We should keep the focus where it belongs - on helping our children."  (Matt Nelligan – Chief of Staff, Senator Rich Funke)

If you are interested in advocating for higher reimbursement rates-- go to this link and sign an online petition   


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