Delegate Phil Hamilton sets the record straight on MR Waivers:
Setting the Record Straight on MR Waivers
In a recent e-mail response to a question to the Governor about MR waivers, the Secretary of Health & Human Resources, Marilyn Tavenner wrote, “…Fortunately, the federal stimulus package enabled the Senate Finance Committee to restore funding to the Medicaid waiver program and prevent any caps on services or changes in waiver eligibility or enrollment procedures. The stimulus package provisions also enabled Virginia to restore funding for 200 new MR waiver slots and maintain Medicaid reimbursement for durable medical equipment…
Unfortunately, the Secretary failed to mention the efforts of the House of Delegates with regards to MR waivers in this biennial budget. In 2008, it was the House that included 400 additional MR waivers in each year of its biennial budget proposal. The Senate proposed zero additional MR waivers. During the budget conference process, the House eventually compromised and settled for 600 MR waivers in FY 2009 with a promise to try and do more for FY 2010 during the 2009 General Assembly session.
Because of the economic downturn, Governor Kaine was forced to make numerous difficult decisions in his budget amendment proposal that was released on December 17, 2008. One decision was to reduce the number of MR waivers for FY 2009 from 600 to 400.
This was one of the budget actions opposed by the House. In its budget proposal which was released on February 8, 2009, before any additional federal funding was available, the House budget restored the 200 MR waivers reduced by the Governor by funding them effective July 1, 2009 and funded 200 additional MR waivers to be available on January 1, 2010. This ensured 400 MR waivers for FY 2010.
Once the federal funding became available, the Senate finally passed its budget, over a week late, and restored the 200 MR waivers eliminated by the Governor. This was a necessary action for them to take because without doing it they would not be able to include the federal money in their budget proposal. They did not, however, provide any additional MR waivers for FY 2010.
During the 2009 budget conference process, it was the House conferees that insisted on increasing the number of MR waivers for FY 2010. Since the 200 waivers had to be restored to FY 2009 to maintain the 600 waivers approved in 2008, the House conferees insisted on the 200 MR waivers to be available on January 1, 2010. After much negotiation, the Senate agreed to the House position. This ensured 800 MR waivers for the biennium.
According to Delegate Phillip Hamilton (R-Newport News), “It has been the Republican-led House of Delegates that has demonstrated, through their actions to fund additional MR waivers with state general fund dollars, a serious commitment to the intellectually disabled citizens of Virginia. The Governor reduced the number of MR waivers in his budget proposal and the Senate did not provide any additional MR waivers even after they included federal funding in their budget proposal. Clearly, actions speak louder than words.”