From Doris Ray (ECNV)
URGENT—ACT TO STOP DEEP CUTS IN DISABILITY SERVICES—CONTACT LEGISLATORS TODAY!
YOU MUST ACT TODAY!! –
In the next two days, the Virginia General Assembly’s money committees will make final decisions on the state budget for FY’2011-2012. In December, outgoing Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine presented the General Assembly with a proposed state budget for the next two years. It contained significant cuts to Virginia’s Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waivers Program, including a yearlong freeze on admissions to 5 of the 7 waivers. It also included an 8% cut in the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) Personal Assistance Services (PAS) Program.
Additionally, Medicaid waiver provider reimbursements, including the salaries of personal assistants, respite workers, and companions would be cut by 5%.
As a result of YOUR ADVOCACY, state legislators were considering restoring some of these proposed cuts and offered their own budget amendments to do that.
Yesterday, Governor Robert F. McDonnell presented state legislators with a list of additional budget cuts that he would like the General Assembly to adopt. These proposed budget reductions would significantly cut, and in some cases, eliminate, services vital to the independence, self-sufficiency, and community integration of Virginians with disabilities! He said that these cuts are necessary to balance the state budget, but he also said that he would not entertain raising taxes or doing away with the personal property (car) tax relief program to raise revenues to prevent deep budget cuts.
Governor McDonnell’s recommendations for additional budget cuts include ---
· Elimination of consumer-directed personal assistance, respite and companion services from Virginia’s Medicaid Home and Community-Based (HCBS) Waivers. (A new cut proposed by Governor McDonnell, it is expected to reduce the budget by $62.9 million ) Individuals and families would no longer be able to hire and fire their own attendants. Instead, they would either have to use home health agencies, which are notoriously unreliable, or be forced into nursing homes or other institutions.
· Reduction of the financial eligibility threshold for Medicaid long term care services (both waivers and institutional placement) from 300% of the monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check to 250% of SSI. Those with higher social security/retirement checks, for example, or those attempting to return to work, but who rely on waivers in order to afford personal assistance, would have their services curtailed. This budget recommendation notes that those in institutions will not be in jeopardy because they can simply spend-down in order to continue to receive Medicaid.
· Cuts of 25% in the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) Personal Assistance Services (PAS) Program for FY 2011 and 50% in FY 2012. DRS PAS helps those not eligible for Medicaid waivers. A significant number of people would lose services, have to quit jobs, and could be forced into institutions.· Additional reductions in state funding (beyond the 10% cut proposed in Governor Kaine’s budget) for adult in-home chore and companion services provided by local government departments of social services. These services provide an alternative for those needing help with activities of daily living, e.g., bathing, dressing and meal preparation, and who are not eligible for Medicaid waiver or DRS PAS services. The bad economy may force local governments to cut these services or impose waiting lists, especially with significant reductions in state funding.
· Elimination of the Department of the Blind and Vision Impaired, the Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities. This recommendation was advanced without consultation with the consumers who will have their services impacted. Additionally, the DRS budget would be reduced by 5%.
These are only a few of the myriad of cuts in health and human services proposed by the McDonnell Administration.In the next two days, the members of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees will consider all of the recommendations regarding the biennium budget and issue their final recommendations on Sunday, February 21.
YOU MUST ACT NOW TO PREVENT DEVASTATING CUTS to PROGRAMS AND SERVICES THAT ARE VITAL TO VIRGINIANS WITH DISABILITIES!!
If YOU, or someone you care about, receives Medicaid waiver consumer-directed personal assistance, respite, or companion services, tell legislators how important these services are to YOU! Remind them that it cost far less to provide Medicaid home and community-based waiver services. In fact, data that Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) provides to the federal government demonstrates that it costs Virginia three times more to keep people in nursing homes and other institutions rather than providing services in one’s own home.
Ask them to reject Governor McDonnell’s proposed cuts because they would force people with disabilities back into nursing homes and other institutions, costing the state more in Medicaid expenditures and in lost human potential! Tell them to restore funding to Medicaid waivers, DRS PAS, and adult in-home and companion services. Tell them it’s a good economic investment for the people served and for the personal assistants who consumers hire and employ. Tell them to restore cuts in attendant salaries also! Senate Finance and House Appropriations members are making their decisions in the next two days!
PLEASE ACT NOW BY CONTACTING THE FOLLOWING LEGISLATORS BY EMAIL OR BY PHONE --
Senator Charles Colgan, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee
Senator Edward Houck, Chair of the Senate Finance Health and Human Resources Subcommittee
Senator Janet Howell (D-Fx), Member Senate Finance Committee
Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-ARL/Fx), Member Senate Finance Committee
Senator Richard Saslaw (D-Fx), Member Senate Finance Committee and Senate Majority Leader
Delegate Lacey Putney, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee
Delegate Harvey Morgan, Chair of the House Appropriations Health and Human Resources Subcommittee
Delegate Robert Brink (D-ARL), Member House Appropriations Committee
Delegate Joe T. May (R-LOU), Member House Appropriations Committee
PLEASE ALSO CONTACT GOVERNOR MCDONNELL – Ask the governor to withdraw his recommendations to eliminate consumer-directed services in the Medicaid waivers. Remind him that Medicaid waiver services are more cost-effective than institutional placements and a good investment for Virginia. Let him know how important it is for consumers to be able to hire and supervise their own caregivers because it results in better quality assurance than using a home health agency. If you use DRS PAS services, let Governor McDonnell know how important those services are for you, and if DRS PAS services help you to stay employed and continue to pay taxes, tell him that!
HERE’S HOW TO CONTACT GOVERNOR MCDONNELL --
Governor Robert McDonnell
THANKS FOR TAKING TIME TO CONTACT THE GOVERNOR AND OUR LEGISLATORS!!
Additional committee members and phone numbers:
Members of the House Appropriations Health and Human Resources Subcommittee
Delegate Harvey Morgan (Chair) -- (804) 698-1098
Delegate Riley E. Ingram--(804) 698-1062
Delegate R. Steven Landes-- (804) 698-1025
Delegate S. Chris Jones -- (804) 698-1076
Delegate John O'Bannon-- (804) 698-1073
Delegate Robert Brink--(804) 698-1048
Delegate Onzlee Ware-- (804) 698-1011
Delegate Rosalyn Dance-- (804) 698-1063
Members of the Senate Finance Health and Human Resources Subcommittee
Senator Edd Houck (Chairman)-- (804) 698-7517
Senator Mary Margaret Whipple--(804) 698-7531
Senator Janet Howell-- (804) 698-7532
Senator William Wampler-- (804) 698-7540
Senator Henry Marsh-- (804) 698-7516
Senator Yvonne Miller-- (804) 698-7505
Senator Emmet Hanger -- (804) 698-7524