Our View of the Legislature: Medicaid

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On Thursday, February 9, both houses will hold full debates on the budget. We expect the sessions on both sides to be quite lengthy. Today is their deadline to pass their budget bill. The two bills will then go to the other side, which will reject the proposal. Procedurally, then, the bills go into a “committee of conference.” The Budget Conference Committee meets privately – we will not know the progress of deliberations until they announce their conference report, during the week of February 20th.

An important element of the budget is funding for Medicaid. Here are some of the bills relating to Medicaid that will ultimately be decided in the budget:

HB 1512 (Adams) directs the Department of Medical Assistance Services to change the state plan to be able to pay for motorized wheelchairs in nursing homes. The bill was approved by the House unanimously and was included in the House version of the budget. The Senate Committee on Education and Health approved the bill this morning and sent it to Finance. The proposal has a cost of more than 1.3 million dollars in state matching funds. Senator Barker, who is a significant member of the Senate Finance committee, is a co-patron of the bill. We remain hopeful.

HB 1452 (Orrock) creates a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit within the Office of the Attorney General, with special investigative and enforcement authority. The bills were approved by the House, and will likely be heard in Senate Judiciary, perhaps Monday morning. The proposal has a fiscal impact, but a small one.

HB 1599 (Wachsmann) and SB 831 (Favola) direct the Department of Medical Assistance Services to amend the Family and Individual Supports, Community Living, and Building Independence waivers to implement a medically needy spend-down provision that allows otherwise eligible individuals to spend income in excess of the income limit for waiver services on medical expenses in order to meet the waiver income limit. The House Bill was defeated in the House Committee on Appropriations, even though the fiscal impact statement attached to the bill is minimal. The Senate bill was approved by the full Senate and has now been referred to House Appropriations. The fate of the bill will likely be decided by the conference committee.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia will follow Medicaid-related bills throughout the session. We are available to educate policymakers about the potential impact of legislative proposals. Please let us know of any issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at ga@dlcv.org or info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042. Our 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.