Friday, March 19, 2010
A Balanced (?) Budget
I wrote both in January and February about the budget woes faced by my homestate, Virginia, and how much of the budget balancing was being done by cutting services to people with disabilities.
Last Sunday, our General Assembly passed the budget bill, and although things were not as bad as expected, they are still not good. I also worry that unless the economic situation in both Virginia and the rest of the country improves, this might just be the tip of the iceberg.
Here are the budget results as they related to people with disabilities:
The Conference Committee completed their work yesterday and just a few hours after their report was printed, the General Assembly passed Virginia's 2010-2012 Biennium Budget.
Restorations of home and community based services in the 2010-2012 budget include:
• 250 new ID Waivers for individuals/families on the ID Waiver waiting list (start date of 7/1/10)*
• Elimination of the proposed cut to respite services. *
• Elimination of the proposed cut to HCBS Waiver provider reimbursement rates *
• Elimination of proposed freeze on HCBS Waiver enrollment *
• Elimination of proposed cuts to Medicaid podiatry and optometry services.*
• Monthly income for HCBS Waiver eligibility would not be reduced from 300% SSI to 250% SSI *
• No cuts to consumer directed services
Cuts/Policies that remain in the 2010-2012 VA Budget include:
• $23 million to rebuild a 75-bed institution at Southeastern Virginia Training Center in Chesapeake.
• $24 million to renovate Central Virginia Training Center, an institution in Lynchburg.
• 750 ID Waivers and 134 DD Waivers eliminated (this would make 4 years of no new DD Waivers).
• Assistive Technology (AT) will be reduced from $5,000 to $3,000 per year in FY12.*
• Environmental Modifications (EM) will be reduced from $5,000 to $3,000 per year in FY12.*
*-Restorations dependent on FMAP funding. Like many other items in the budget, these restorations are contingent upon a 6 month extension of the enhanced FMAP (a temporary increase in the federal share of Medicaid spending). On Thursday of last week, the U.S. Senate passed the FMAP extension, which was included in the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213), by a vote of 62-36. The U.S. House of Representatives has not yet decided on whether to adopt the Senate bill or develop its own bill, which, after passage would be conferenced with the Senate bill.
What happens next?
The budget bill now goes to Governor McDonnell for his review. The Governor has the ability to propose amendments to the budget before the General Assembly's veto session on April 21st.
I hope and pray that things do not get any worse than they already are...both in my state and in yours.