Some Personal Support Workers Should Expect Fair Share Checks in the Mail this Week

This morning, brokerages received the following information from the Oregon Office of Developmental Disabilities Services:

Approximately 400 Home Care Workers and Personal Support Workers checks will be issued tonite and put in the mail tomorrow. These checks are a fairshare correction. Even if a person has direct deposit, a check will be issued for them…

If the HCW or PSW have questions please refer them to contact SEIU at 877-451-0002.

SEIU/State Cease Collecting Fair Share Payments from Personal Support Workers

Per a transmittal released by the Oregon Department of Human Services this morning, fair share fees will no longer be deducted from Personal Support Worker pay. If you have questions about this, please call the union (SEIU) directly at the number below.

“At the request of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), DHS has ceased collecting agency fees, also known as fair share payments, from Homecare Workers and Personal Support Workers (“Providers”) who are non-members. Local staff and management may receive inquiries from Providers about this change or questions about membership. Staff should not advise nor attempt to advise these Providers on issues of dues or union membership. If inquiries are received from Providers, staff must refer them directly to SEIU’s Member Resource Center at 1-877-451-0002.

 Important note: This request was made by SEIU on behalf of only the Homecare Workers, Personal Support Workers and Child Care Providers for whom they represent.”

 

 

 

A Message from DD Director Trisha Baxter to Personal Support Workers re: July 1st Payment Changes

A Message from Trisha Baxter, Interim DD Program Director:

Dear Personal Support Worker,

As you know, our state is making a number of changes throughout the programs supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  These changes are needed to be in compliance with federal regulations and our collective bargaining agreement, as well as to improve service delivery.  The Department of Human Services has been working collaboratively with SEIU, Brokerages, Community Developmental Disability Programs (CDDP), providers and other advocates in making sure these changes do not negatively impact the people we serve or our workers.

The most immediate and direct change, coming up on July 1, is how you will be paid.  Beginning in July, we are moving to a centralized state payment system, with TNT Fiscal Intermediary Services, Inc., with common payroll dates twice a month.  This is going to help streamline eligibility for medical, dental and vision benefits.  As we have previously communicated, there is a delay to other program changes, specifically around the Plan of Care functionality in eXPRS. We will be sharing more information around those timelines as it becomes available.

You may have recently been contacted by the CDDP and/or brokerage that you work with to complete information required for the transition to TNT Fiscal Intermediary Services for the purpose of processing payroll on July 1. Please complete and return any paperwork you have been provided so that we can ensure you are paid timely. Once you have completed and submitted your paperwork you have nothing else to worry about – TNT will contact you, through your CDDP or brokerage, should additional information be needed. TNT has indicated that if paperwork is delayed, they will still do everything in their power to ensure timely payments, even to the point of running an extra payroll cycle if needed. It is important to us that you are paid accurately and timely. You will need to sign a new direct deposit form if you chose direct deposit.  This form was included in the information you received from your CDDP or brokerage. If you need another copy of the form, please contact the CDDP or brokerage, or you can contact TNT directly at (503) 463-0134.

In accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, beginning with services provided after July 1, 2014, claims for payment should be submitted to the Brokerage or CDDP no later than three (3) business days (excluding Oregon and Federal holidays) before the eighth (8th) and/or the twenty-third (23rd) of each month.  You will be paid three (3) business days (excluding Oregon and Federal holidays) after the eighth (8th) and/or the twenty-third (23rd) of each month.  Click here to see the full details http://www.seiu503.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/10/files/2014/03/SEIU-OHCC-2013-2015-Collective-Bargaining-Agreement-FINAL-SIGNED-COVER-LETTER.pdf. Payment for June or earlier services will be paid in accordance with current practice.

If you have questions regarding this transition, please contact your CDDP, Brokerage, or TNT. Be watching for additional information over the next couple of weeks, including a calendar outlining payment dates, options for payment, and other information for your reference.

 

Changes to Provider Payments Are Still Planned for July 1st, 2014 – What You Need to Know (And Do)

By Ron Spence, Operations Director

The recent announcement that DHS listened to the community and delayed implementation of the eXPRS data system was welcome news to stakeholders across the state. However, in order to meet the terms of the collective bargaining agreement it made with SEIU, the state must collapse all payments to Personal Support Workers (PSWs) into a “single payment system” by July 1st In order to meet this obligation, DHS is in negotiations to contract with TNT Fiscal Intermediary Services (TNT FI) to make all PSW payments to providers in all DD programs (counties as well as brokerages) statewide.This change affects thousands of providers; brokerages and counties have been charged with making the transition in three weeks and some questions remain unanswered. Time is short and much work will need to be done to ensure every PSW in the state is paid on time in July. Please help us by spreading the word.  We will update the FAQ below as more information comes in. Our top priorities remain uninterrupted services to our customers and uninterrupted payment to their providers. 

Note: While there is much overlap in how things will work for providers working with different brokerages, the information in this post is specific to providers who work with Independence Northwest’s customers. The requirements of the transition to a single payer (TNT FI) are different depending on the provider type.

PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKER – DOMESTIC EMPLOYEE Because TNT already processes payroll for domestic employee PSWs who work with Independence Northwest’s customers, this group of providers will experience the least impact during the transition. If you’re a domestic employee, the changes you can expect are the following:

  • Timesheet due dates and pay days may change. Due dates, processing time, and pay dates are part of the state’s agreement with SEIU, but as of this writing the state has been unable to tell us what those dates are. We will let you know as soon as we know.
  • Reduced frequency of payroll: Independence Northwest has historically run DE payroll three (sometimes four) times a month. Under the collective bargaining agreement this number is reduced to twice a month. If you are someone who submits timesheets later in the month this may mean you will wait longer to be paid than you have in the past.

DON’T FORGET: You will still need to get a provider number for when the state rolls out eXPRS later in the year. If you don’t have a provider number yet contact the state immediately: 1-800-241-3013 or SPD.ProviderNumber@state.or.us 

PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKER – INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR 

Effective July 1 all payments to PSW independent contractors will no longer originate from INW offices but will be processed by TNT FI from their office in Salem. In order to make this happen, all ICs will need to fill out a TNTFI_VENDOR ENROLLMENT PACKETICs must fill out a separate packet for each customer they work with. Please note that the packet includes a direct deposit form. Unfortunately the direct deposit form you have on file with INW will not transfer to TNT. The packet must be signed by the customer or the customer’s legal guardian. If you want to continue using direct deposit after July 1  you must fill out this new one and provide all the documentation it requires.   Below are some changes PSW-ICs who work with INW customers should expect:

  • Changes to invoice due dates and pay dates: Because INW cuts checks for independent contractors on a weekly basis, we do not expect ICs to adhere to any invoice deadline. However, under the new system, due dates, processing time, and pay dates are determined by the state’s agreement with SEIU, and as of this writing the state has been unable to tell us what those dates are. We will let you know as soon as we know.
  • Reduction in pay frequency and flexibility: INW cuts checks on a weekly basis for vendors so that a vendor can invoice us at any time during the month and expect timely payment. Under the collective bargaining agreement payment is reduced to twice a month. This may mean you will need to change the timing of your invoicing in order to avoid delays in payment. With payment no longer occurring in-house, INW unfortunately loses the flexibility to accommodate same-day check runs and other special requests as we have in the past.

PROVIDER ORGANIZATIONS, NON-PSW INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS, AND OTHER VENDORS 

Payments to all entities not covered by the collective bargaining agreement (provider organizations, non-PSW ICs) will continue to be paid by INW until eXPRS is implemented. If you are the rare IC who provides both PSW services and non-PSW services you will receive separate payments from TNT FI and TNT FI.

FAQ: July 1 Changes to Provider Billing and Payment

Note: Most of this information is brand new and as such is subject to change. We will update this FAQ as we get new information so please check back frequently.

Q. What is changing about how provider payments are made? A. All payments to Personal Support Workers (PSWs) across the state are being consolidated so that they are paid by a single entity, TNT Fiscal Intermediary Services (TNT FI). This affects thousands of providers.

Q. Why is this change happening?  A. Under the collective bargain agreement DHS made with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the state agreed that it would adopt a centralized payment system for all of SEIU’s PSW members in Oregon.

Q. I thought eXPRS was going to be the payment system. Is TNT replacing eXPRS? A. Yes and no. The state has delayed implementation of eXPRS, in part, as a result of questions about its readiness voiced by the community. However, that delay did not absolve the state of its collectively-bargained mandate to adopt a centralized payment system by July 1. Moving PSW payments to TNT FI is a transition plan to meet that mandate.

Q. Will eXPRS make PSW payments in the future? A. To the best of our knowledge TNT will continue to handle all PSW payments for the foreseeable future because eXPRS lacks the complexity to handle payroll under the brokerage customer-as-employer model. Once implemented, eXPRS will act as a “front-end” interface for billing data entry; TNT will process payments using the data entered into eXPRS.

Q. Is there paperwork I need to fill out for this change? A. If you are a PSW-DE there is no additional paperwork for you at this time. If you are a PSW-IC you need to fill out a TNT FI Vendor Enrollment Packet immediately and return it to INW.

Q. Will my direct deposit remain in place? A. It depends on whether you are a PSW-DE or a PSW-IC. Domestic employee direct deposits will be unaffected by this change. PSW independent contractors will need to fill out the new direct deposit form included in the TNT FI Vendor Enrollment Packet if they want to continue using direct deposit. 

Q. Who do I sent my invoices or timesheets to? A. Nothing changes in the short run. Continue to submit your bills to Independence Northwest as you always have.

Q. Will the day my timesheets or invoices are due change? A. Probably. Due dates, processing time, and pay dates are determined by the state’s agreement with SEIU, and the state has been unable to tell us what those dates are. We will let you know as soon as we know.

Q. Will my pay day change? A. Probably. See answer to previous question and check back here often.

Q. What if I need an out of cycle check or if my check is lost or stolen? A. The state has not yet shared how it plans to handle out of cycle checks and other special exceptions after July 1.

Q. What if I am overpaid or underpaid? A. The state has not yet shared the details of how error corrections will occur after July 1.

Q. Does the July 1 change affect me if I am not a PSW? A. The most current information we have is that non-PSW payments will not change on July 1.

Q. Will INW continue to verify my income and employment for housing and other credit applications? A. Because we are not privy to the details of the contract negotiations between TNT FI and DHS, we are unsure whether this duty will remain with INW or will be taken over by TNT FI. Once we have the answer to this question, we will update you.

Q. Will INW continue to respond to unemployment claims? A. We have not been told by DHS if this will remain our responsibility. Stay tuned.

 

Concern Over Talk of Reduction in Pay to Providers

By Ron Spence, Operations Director and
Larry Deal, Executive Director

Last Tuesday, August 20th, Independence Northwest hosted a community forum focusing on the big changes afoot in brokerage services and how those changes will affect providers and the provider community. We had an excellent turnout and lively conversation. A couple dozen providers (primarily Independent Contractors and a few Domestic Employees) came together to discuss upcoming systemic shifts including a change to how providers will be paid and quite possibly, how much they’re paid. As mentioned in earlier articles published by Independence Northwest, these changes are a result of the K Plan and poor audit findings. Read more about that here.

Significant Rate Reductions Potentially Ahead for Providers?

At present, SEIU (Service Employees Union International) and the State of Oregon Department of Human Services are in the process of bargaining rates for SEIU’s provider members. Thanks to House Bill 3618, all Domestic Employees and the majority of Independent Contractors serving brokerage customers are represented by SEIU. You’ll often hear these providers referred to as PSWs [Personal Support Workers] as a result).

Elvyss Argueta, an SEIU organizer who showed up to Tuesday’s forum, dropped a bombshell when he announced that there is movement by the State in current negotiations to reduce the top amount an Independent Contractor can be paid from $24 per hour to a paltry $14.00.

On Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, SEIU sent an email blast out to its members confirming Elvyss’s claims. Per SEIU: “We met with the state last Tuesday and bargained into the evening… The State is continuing to press for significant cuts to Independent Contractor rates … (and) is proposing that Independent Contractors’ current wages will only be kept whole until July 2014, at which point IC wages will drop to $14 per hour. This is unacceptable.”

We agree. Dropping rates down to such a measly rate would create a true crisis for the providers affected and the families and customers who receive services from them. There’s really no way to sugarcoat this. If SEIU’s claims become a reality, this type of service provider (with very few exceptions) will cease to exist as an option for brokerage customers.

Understanding the “Wage” of an Independent Contractor

First things first: employees and contractors are completely different animals. Decision-makers must understand this. The mere suggestion of cuts this deep points to a misunderstanding of not only the unique supports provided by these small businesses, but also of the very definition of an independent contractor.

On the surface, $14 per hour may sound like a fair and decent wage. It’s several steps above minimum wage and is considerably higher than the average direct support professional’s wage in Oregon. However, a closer look at what an Independent Contractor is and does reveals a completely different picture (please stick with us while we offer some context.) Independent Contractors get “paid” rates like $24 per hour because they assume all responsibilities for their own taxes, insurance and benefits; as a result, they take home much less than you’d think. The State was keenly aware of this important distinction as it developed a set of published rate ranges at the onset of brokerage services in the early ’00s.

Let’s start with a typical employee situation. If you are employed by a company and earn $14 per hour, that fourteen dollar figure does not represent the whole story. For starters, add 12% due to the taxes your employer must pay just to employ you and the cost jumps to $15.68 per hour or more. Then, let’s say you get health benefits – even low level benefits – from your employer. That’s probably another $300 per month (about $3,600 per year). That ends up costing your employer another $1.73 or so an hour, bringing your “wage” up to $17.41. Now, let’s throw in two weeks paid vacation and another week of sick time. That costs your employer about $1,881 for the three weeks (another 90 cents an hour) and now we’re up to $18.31 per hour. Maybe you have 401(k) or retirement benefits or if you are a government employee, maybe there’s some PERS being stashed away on your behalf. Your employer buys the supplies you need to do your job, pays for you to attend trainings, pays business insurance and liability insurance, pays for Workers Compensation insurance and mileage reimbursement and on and on… Anyway, you get the idea. $14 to you isn’t $14 to your employer.

Now let’s reverse all of that and look at it from the perspective of a contractor.

A properly classified Independent Contractor is a walking business. Unlike an employee, a contractor has no employer to offer them benefits, liability insurance, mileage/travel costs, computers, office supplies, software, training, sick or vacation time. Everything *starts* at the hourly rate which is exactly why they charge more. Your Independent Contractor might charge $24 to your Plan of Care, but his/her take-home is nowhere near that. Chances are pretty high that your Independent Contractor doesn’t drive a Lexus.

If Oregon starts paying Independent Contractors $14 per hour, these workers will very likely take home less than minimum wage for a professional service. Why would someone do all this work to make less than the guy across the street employed by a brokerage customer or provider organization? Why carry the headache of purchasing liability insurance, ensuring proper deductions, paying self-employment taxes (15.3% in 2013), worrying about your own health insurance only to make less?

If rates really are reduced to this level, we will witness hundreds of small businesses shutter and close up shop. Small businesses truly are the engine fueling Oregon’s current economic recovery.

The Need for Diversity of Provider Types to Serve a Diverse Population

We are lucky to have at our fingertips a rich community of Independent Contractors with varied backgrounds and specialties: former teachers, former case managers, people from the business community who decided they wanted to something more rewarding with their lives. Just as we value diversity in the people we serve, we value diversity in our provider base. We don’t just value that diversity for its own sake. We value it because it promotes choice and increases the quality of supports customers receive. Brokerage customers have wildly variant needs and that calls for a wildly variant set of skills in the provider community. Caregivers in the home meet certain essential needs for our customers. Skills trainers meet others. Provider agencies meet still others. It’s the diversity of choice that makes brokerage services exemplary and completely unique in the system.

A Need for Capacity and a Pledge of Support

In the Portland metro area, we work with hundreds of independent contractors. They have played an integral role in the development of brokerage services over the last twelve years and are a highly valued, essential part of this system.  As the K Plan rolls out, more services will be available for our customer base. This is a great thing. But all those extra financial resources mean nothing unless we have qualified, competent providers who can make a living doing the work. If we price them out, we all lose. Reducing capacity makes no sense.

We realize all too well that information is changing rapidly. This reduction may not even be on the table in a week. But, presently, this conversation is on the table. We feel an obligation to respond to this public information and to support the providers we, our customers, and their families rely on each day for critical health and safety supports. Independence Northwest stands in unequivocal opposition to a reduction in the rates of any provider who serves brokerage customers. 

We encourage providers to communicate with their legislators and leadership at the State to advocate for no reduction to the rates and to educate them on the services they provide. We promise to do the same.

Any reduction in rates for providers serving our customers is a step backward for all of us.

Get Involved!

Independent Contractor Patricia Lawrence is organizing Independent Contractors in the Portland metro area. Visit her new Facebook group for Independent Contractors  or send her an email directly at plawrence@tds.net to get involved.

Please Note: The proposed $10 per hour reduction is specific to those providers who fall under the Personal Support Worker/Independent Contractor designation. Services such as Behavioral and Social/Sexual Supports are not included in the announced proposed reduction.

Short FAQ on April 1st 2013 Pay Increase for Personal Support Workers

The following is a short FAQ document to help customers of Independence Northwest understand upcoming changes to both Personal Support Worker wages and brokerage customer plan benefit caps. Customers will be receiving paper notifications via mail regarding these changes as well.

What’s Happening?
Personal Support Workers (PSWs,) the majority of providers serving Independence Northwest’s customer base, are receiving a 1.25% increase to their wages effective April 1st, 2013.

Brokerage customers are receiving a 1.25% increase to their benefit cap (how much they are eligible for) effective April 1st, 2013. You may view the state’s newly published Benefit Level Matrix here. (This excludes those who are at Full Base Plus + ADL funding. They will not receive an increase to their benefit cap.)

Why Is This Happening?
This pay increase is a result of House Bill 3618 and the 2011/2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement  (CBA) between the Oregon Home Care Commission and SEIU. The House Bill and CBA require that no loss in service occur for our customers as a result of implementing this increase.

Will My Plan (ISP) Need to be Revised?
No. The State has created a revision form that will be attached to your ISP, allowing for the increase in funding to both your Personal Support Worker(s) and your benefit cap. This will happen at Independence Northwest’s office and will not require any action from you or your legal representative.

Do I Have to Give My PSW a Raise?
Yes. It is required. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact either SEIU or the Oregon Home Care Commission since this is their Collective Bargaining Agreement. Independence Northwest is required by contract to carry out the terms of the agreement.

How Do I Know If My Provider is a Personal Support Worker?
Most providers are considered PSWs. Certain providers who perform services such as Behavior Supports are not PSWs and will receive no increase. You may learn more about who is/isn’t a PSW by reviewing this state transmittal.

Does This Change How Much PSWs May Make Permanently?
Yes. The State has published a new set of Rate Ranges, effective 04.01.2013. Click here for details.

Will the Provider Organization I Contract with Receive an Increase?
No. This increase is specific to those under the PSW designation. Provider Organizations will not receive an increase and the rate ranges will not be adjusted up for them.

Have Additional Questions?
Check out  the State’s transmittal for all known details. If you still have questions, please call your Personal Agent at 503.546.2950 and we’ll do our best to get you answers or connect you with those who have answers.

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