One of the programs operated by the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is our “Assistive Technology” program, where we assist people with disabilities to access services or funding for necessary assistive technology, including things like durable medical equipment and communications devices. As a result, we are monitoring bills that would have an impact on funding and access to critical equipment. We are pleased to see some positive developments in the budget and with legislation.
Medicaid funding for customized wheelchairs in nursing facilities – HB 241 (Adams) adds this coverage to the state Medicaid plan, but as amended it establishes a cap of $7500 for any device. The bill has been approved by the House and now moves to Senate Education and Health, probably on Thursday. Supporters worry that the cap effectively nullifies the coverage, as a power wheelchair can cost many times that amount. Both the House proposed budget (304#40h) and the Senate proposed budget (Item 304#10s) contain funding for the coverage, within the $7500 cap. When HB 241 is heard in the Senate Committee, proponents will try to have the cap removed.
HB 1246 (Tran) requires the Department of Education develop guidelines about accessible digital tools used in student instruction and requires all purchases after September 1, 2022 to comply with those guidelines. This is a bill that was requested by the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. This bill was approved by the House of Delegates and will now be heard by the Senate Committee on Education and Health, probably on Thursday of this week.
SB 405 (Barker) requires health insurers to cover prosthetic devices. The bill was approved by the Senate, and funding was contained in the Senate budget to cover it. The bill will be heard in the House Committee on Commerce and Labor. A similar bill, HB 925 from Delegate Roem, was approved by the House and, on Monday, by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. The two bills have some differences, which Senator Barker and Delegate Roem intend to work out as the bills move through the process.
You can watch the Senate Committee on Education and Health meeting on Thursday by clicking here.
The disAbility Law Center of Virginia’s mission is to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation. We are available to educate policy makers about the potential impact of legislative proposals and budgetary considerations. Please let us know of any legislative proposals or budget issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.