The 5% Campaign: It’s not over

The 5% Campaign is a nonpartisan coalition that formed in 2014 to ask state policymakers for a 5% rate increase for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS). These essential services include personal care assistance, independent living skills training, home-delivered meals, group homes, assisted living, and more. Supporters maintain that life in the community is the first and best option for people with disabilities, older Minnesotans, as well as their families, workers and our state as well.

The Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton authorized a full five percent rate increase in 2014. Funding helped reduce employee turnover, improve care and allow people remain independent in their homes and active in their communities.

This session, the campaign sought a five percent rate increase for both 2015 and in 2016. Advocates maintained that even with the 2014 increase, rates continued to lag far behind the pace of inflation and caregivers remained underpaid for the challenging and critical work they do.

Committed grassroots advocates wrote letters, made calls, sent postcards, and showed up to the capitol by the thousands in support of The 5% Campaign during session. More than 1,000 people loudly rallied at ARRM/MOHR Day at the Capitol on March 10 and met with their legislators. Supporters held signs in front of House and Senate chambers on April 30.

They tweeted Gov. Mark Dayton, told their stories at town halls and at news conferences. “I love my work, but staying with this job has come with many sacrifices,” said Minneapolis caregiver Lynn Jensen. “I lost my home due to rising costs. After paying for rent, insurance and gas I am left with only $115 a week to spend on groceries and other expenses.”

In the end The 5% Campaign’s call for a rate increase this session went unanswered, though $90 million of funding was proposed by the Minnesota House. While the campaign wasn’t successful this year, the great work by advocates made a difference. They increased awareness of the need for funding, and positioned HCBS for an increase in 2016. The amount of time spent, personal stories shared and dedication that direct support professionals, self-advocates, family members and others showed was nothing short of remarkable and inspiring.

Campaign leaders are developing strategies for 2016 as the job is not done yet. They are counting on supporters to lend their voices this summer, fall and into the next legislative session as they continue to fight for 90,000 dedicated caregivers and the people with disabilities and older adults they support. You can learn more and stay connected by going here, following The 5% Campaign on Twitter @5PercentMN, and by joining the campaign’s Facebook page.

 

Amy Wartick is the ARRM Communications Director and Chairperson of The 5% Communications Team.