Kansas City Build Back Better Fund

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Workers caring for some of Kansas City’s most vulnerable citizens are hoping the funding they desperately need will come from President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act.

The nonprofit Life Unlimited is funded by the state of Missouri and federally compensated by Medicaid.
It provides long-term home care and services to over 1,000 adults living with disabilities in the Kansas City area. It is the largest supplier in the region.

But, CEO Julie Edlund says these programs have long been underfunded.

“There are 15,000 direct support professionals in the state of Missouri who support people with disabilities,” said Edlund. “More than 50% of them receive public assistance to meet their daily needs, and one in four lives below the federal poverty line.

Edlund said it is currently losing 55 employees, nearly a sixth of what its total workforce would be.
Employees work 80 to 100 hours a week to compensate, all for $ 12 an hour.

The result is a revolving door of people caring for people like Marvin, 85.

“The job is very rewarding, emotionally,” said team supervisor and healthcare coordinator Kim Boden. “I feel like I have a goal and I come to work every day to serve. “

Boden works with Marvin every day.

“These people deserve the best care we can give them, but we cannot give them to them if we are exhausted,” Boden said.

Due to lack of funding, Edlund says some people with disabilities can’t even access housing and sit in limbo on waiting lists. She hopes that some help might come.

Biden’s Build Back Better law includes $ 150 billion for home and community Medicaid, HCBS, and better wages to address the staff shortage.

“This will invest significant money, federal dollars, to match each state, so that we can increase the wages of our direct support workers,” Edlund said. “And if it doesn’t, there is no way we can continue to provide services. “

If passed, Edlund said Life Unlimited will receive an eight percent funding increase in the short term and six percent thereafter.

According to reports, a House vote could take place as early as this week.

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Julio V. Miller