January 18th, 2012

Dear Independent Contractors and Support Services Provider Community,

In the last month or so, brokerage employees have received a number of inquires regarding the future of independent contractors in support services. The common thread is a rumor that brokerages either have stopped or plan to stop qualifying independent contractors entirely. We’ve even heard from some providers that “brokerages are doing away with both independent contractors and domestic employees.” These rumors are unfounded and without merit and we are issuing this written statement in an attempt to prevent their further spread.

Community Pathways Inc., Inclusion Inc., Independence Northwest, Mentor Oregon Brokerage, Self Determination Resources Inc. and UCP Connections have taken no steps to quit qualifying independent contractors. We continue to qualify providers of all types. That said, we are seeking clarity on the conflicting rules and expectations of the various governmental bodies who oversee brokerages and determine the validity of independent contractor classification. The input of these agencies is ongoing and additional understanding of their expectations and of our legal responsibilities will undoubtedly inform the ways in which future providers are qualified.

Often, it seems as if brokerages are perceived as creating policies that are in fact created by state and federal authorities. For instance, brokerages don’t set provider rate ranges (the state does that) and we don’t make rules about what providers can be paid for (federal Medicaid authorities do that). And while we don’t create those policies we have a contractual obligation with the Department of Human Services to ensure compliance with those rules and to assure their proper implementation. This has become increasingly difficult over time as the number of conflicting governmental statutes continues to grow.

If things shift in terms of qualification criteria or other state or federal requirements, we will do what we have always done: communicate. We have spent many years nurturing, advocating for and enhancing provider and resource capacity in the metro area. We’ll continue to do so. Is there a possibility the way we must qualify providers will change? Sure. Do we know what those changes might be? Not at present. But if and/or when things do change, we will be in contact. We are partners in this process and we have the same aim: to provide exceptional service to our joint customer base.

Please forward this information on to those you know who might be misinformed on this topic. Thank you for your continued work with our shared customers. The work you do each day makes an enormous difference in the lives of thousands of Oregonians in our community.

Best regards.

Jennifer Bickett, Community Pathways Inc.
Larry Deal, Independence Northwest
Sarah Knight, UCP Connections
Howard Miller, Inclusion Inc.
Dan Peccia, Self Determination Resources Inc.
Katie Rose, Mentor Oregon Brokerage