DURANT, Okla. (KTEN)— Oklahoma has boosted reimbursement rates by 25 percent for care providers who have clients with a Developmentally Disabled Services waiver through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

The pandemic hit the health care industry hard, making an existing recruitment problem worse in a field where people are its lifeblood.

"Quality is determined in this field by the direct care staff that work with people," said interim OKDHS director Samantha Galloway. "People need high-quality, committed staff to come into their homes to provide these services."

The rate increase, effective October 1, will help providers offer higher wages to make their positions more appealing to potential employees.

"We compete with retail positions, restaurant positions... we compete with all sorts of industries," Galloway said.

People First Industries in Durant provides developmentally disabled adults with vocational training. They plan to use the extra money to hire more job coaches.

"We don't just stand and supervise these people; we work alongside these people," PFI executive director Shannon Walker said. "The more job coaches we get, the more clients that we can send out with these people and be able to assist more in the public"

Reimbursement rates determine how much money a provider receives from the state for their services. The Oklahoma legislature set aside $32.5 million to fund  this rate increase.

Providers can see the effect of the increase as early as their next reimbursement bill.