Washington state caregivers’ paychecks delayed after private company takeover

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Josephine Peterson / The Newsstand

The shift from public to private monitoring to ease the headaches of the state has resulted in delayed payments for some caregivers.

The state gave a private company administrative control of Medicaid caregivers, but the transfer left some without pay for weeks, including two caregivers who spoke with The News Tribune. The caregivers’ union filed a grievance against the new employer last month.

Bea Rector, director of home and community services for the Washington State Department of Health and Human Services, confirmed that there were deductions from paychecks.

“We all have a very high priority of wanting them to be paid. We want them to be paid in a timely manner and we want their pay to be accurate,” she said. “Anyone who doesn’t get paid the right amount on time, that’s a big deal.”

Washington’s DSHS oversees more than 48,000 “individual provider” caregivers statewide. A person with Medicaid in need of home care hires an individual provider. The state pays and supervises the caregiver, but due to overstretched staff, the state transferred those employers to a contract employer in early March.

In 2019, the state entered into a nine-year, $572 million contract with Consumer Direct Care Network to become the employer of independent caregivers. After years of establishing the Washington branch, the company now handles all employment, payroll, and administrative functions of managing this workforce.

Most caregivers are being paid timely and accurately after a few weeks of delay, Rector said, but there have been hiccups in moving tens of thousands of caregivers under Consumer Direct Washington.

Consumer Direct Washington told the News Tribune that staff respond to new hire payment issues as soon as possible.

“Whenever the CDWA is notified of any of these discrepancies, it is immediately addressed and rectified,” the company said in a statement.

The carers’ union said members had struggled with their paychecks during the transition. Although Consumer Direct Washington responded to the complaints, SEIU 775’s acting communications director Allison Tabiando said the sheer volume of people moving under their system caused delays.

“Our union has filed a grievance on behalf of those affected, and we are working to ensure that carers not only receive the wages they have earned, but are also compensated for late fees or other charges. additional financial costs they incurred due to lateness or incorrect pay,” she said.

The state transferred its oversight of these caregivers because staff struggled to meet the demands of clients and caregivers.

State case managers have been overwhelmed with assessing client needs while supervising home-based workers, Rector said.

“As our workforce has become more diverse, sophisticated and large, it has taken longer and longer for case managers to manage this workforce so that clients have access to care,” a- she declared. “They have less time to deal with really complex chronic conditions and the socio-economic needs of the client.”

Consumer Direct Washington spokesperson Coco Ballew said the company is in the midst of an “unprecedented transition” as an entirely new social services program with new systems, processes and administrative support. .

“We understand the frustration of our new hires when affected by these discrepancies and we sincerely apologize,” CDWA said.

Other states have had payment issues with CDWA’s parent company, Consumer Direct Care Network.

A Virginia caregiver told a local news station in 2019 that the company hadn’t paid her in months. Ballew said the problems in Virginia were due to similar transition issues and pay issues for the mentioned caregiver were quickly resolved.

“In the case of Virginia, CDCN was transitioning from one payroll provider to another, which required accurate data from the previous provider to ensure a smooth transition,” Ballew said.

When asked if the state was aware of payment issues in other states, Rector said the company was one of two companies bidding on the state contract and the only one to pass the contract negotiations.

“We found this contractor to be extremely responsive. They are problem solvers,” Rector said.

Consumer Direct Washington will not oversee all individual vendors.

Suppliers in King and Pierce County were included in the first wave of transfers to Consumer Direct Washington, but language barriers and paperwork held back some.

“There are a lot of people with limited English, different levels of literacy, different levels of technology proficiency in terms of using computers,” Rector said. “There’s been a lot of problem-solving to reach out to people who are struggling to try to help them through the process.”

The state estimates that about 9,000 of the 48,000 will continue to be employed by the state, due to hiring gaps for Consumer Direct Washington.

“The large number of people who are going through this hiring process who can get stuck at different points in this hiring process,” Rector said.

Rector expects all payment issues experienced by individual vendors to be resolved in the coming weeks. Those still having difficulty have been asked to contact cde@dshs.wa.gov.


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