Opinion, WVPA Sharing

Opinion: Supporters of West Virginians with intellectual & developmental disabilities should act now for federal funding consideration

WV Press News sharing

With many observers expecting the federal Budget Reconciliation Bill to be finalized in early August, advocates for issues still under consideration are seeking the support of key U.S. Senate leaders —  U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in particular.

Getting the most attention are the talks on Medicare’s ability to negotiate prescription drug prices — with AARP and other advocates pushing for change and Sen. Manchin directing the discussion — but the W.Va. Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association is working to gain support for a $150 billion investment in the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services program.

WVBHPA says the Medicaid HCBS program is critical to ensuring that West Virginians with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities can receive the services they need to support their health, well-being, and inclusion in the community. The federal funding is urgently needed to retain and attract the caregivers for the I/DD population, according to the WVBHPA.

Mark Drennan, CEO of the W.Va. Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association (WVBHPA), and other advocates are requesting support from Sen. Manchin and urging West Virginians supporting the request to immediately contact the Senator’s office and write Letters to the Editor calling for support of the Medicaid HCBS program

The Centers for Disease Control defines I/DDs as “a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. A further clarification citing “autism, behavioral disorders, brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, learning disabilities, and spina bifida” as being conditions which fall under the I/DD umbrella. 

The WVBHPA provided the following information:

·       In West Virginia, nearly 5,000 individuals with I/DD receive services through the HCBS program for support with activities of daily living.

·       Members of the WVBHPA, which represents more than 25 providers of home and community-based services across the state, have seen a 50% workforce reduction – from more than 14,000 to less than 7,800 employees.

·       Without a sufficient workforce, providers are forced to close programs, placing people with I/DD at higher risk of hospitalization and institutionalization. Nationally, 77% of providers are turning away new referrals and 58% of providers are discontinuing programs and services.

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