Gov. Joe Manchin today announced that in addition to the $2 million increase provided for in the just-approved state budget, he will seek an additional $5.5 million to allow more West Virginia seniors to take advantage the state’s Medicaid Aged and Disabled Waiver (A/D) program.
“We applaud the governor for taking this initiative,” said Sen. Roman Prezioso, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources. “Our state’s senior citizens are among our most valuable assets, and we need to provide them the opportunity to live with grace in their homes for as long as it is financially possible for the state.”
Del. Don Perdue, chairman of the House Committee on Health and Human Resources, said, “I am delighted that Gov. Manchin has taken what the Legislature sees as a necessary step in protecting the needs of the seniors in our state. His quick action to provide the capital resources needed to eliminate the current waiting list, and his clear commitment to reduce the likelihood that it may once again approach the numbers we have seen is testament to a collaborative effort by both the executive and legislative branches to allow eligible seniors to stay in their homes and live independently as possible.”
The governor said he will ask for the supplemental appropriation in an upcoming special session of the Legislature. The money would be placed into a reserve account to alleviate a possible waiting list for seniors who become eligible for the waiver program after July 1.
The governor already had dedicated enough money in the fiscal year 2011 budget to accommodate all of those eligible citizens who would be on the A/D waiver waiting list at the end of the 2010 fiscal year, which ends June 30. The supplemental appropriation should cover those who are expected to become eligible throughout the coming year, rather than waiting until next July for the necessary funding.
“I am proud of what we have done to care for our seniors, who have given so much to our state throughout their lifetimes,” Manchin said. “In addition to increasing funding for the A/D waiver more than 100 percent in the last three years alone, we have provided an additional $26 million for senior programs – the most ever.
“While we have limited financial resources and we must not create programs we can’t afford, we will do everything in our power to help those who are needy and who meet eligibility requirements to stay in their homes as long as possible. I have worked closely with Del. Don Perdue and Sen. Roman Prezioso on this plan to help pay for in-home care for those who need it most.”
While about 6,000 West Virginians currently receive services through the A/D waiver, tens of thousands benefit from in-home programs provided by the state Bureau of Senior Services. Since 2005, Manchin has increased funding for two new in-home care programs, including the Lighthouse program, which serves West Virginians medically in need of in-home services but who do not financially qualify for the A/D waiver. By the end of this fiscal year, every county will have received a new food delivery truck to reach homebound seniors with hot, nutritious meals.
“Throughout this national recession, while many states have closed senior centers and cut funding for their programs, West Virginia has expanded its reach to more of our seniors than ever,” Manchin said. “We will continue to serve our seniors at the highest level possible within our resources.”
In 2005, fewer than 40,000 seniors were being served by the Bureau of Senior Services. At the end of FY 2009, 120,000 seniors were receiving Bureau services.
Jama Jarrett or Melvin Smith