Medicaid cuts harmful

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I am writing to express concerns former Gov. Kaine's budget reduction proposal as it pertains to Medicaid home- and community-based programs.

Any one of the proposals would have an extremely negative impact on providing care for some of Virginia's most frail and vulnerable citizens.

In combination, they will devastate Virginia's home- and community-based care system.

I am keenly aware of the commonwealth's fiscal condition and recognize that this past year has been challenging.

Home care services have also been adversely affected by increasing costs not limited to, but including, unemployment taxes and workers compensation.

Virginia's elderly and disabled waiver program is critical to allowing frail elderly and disabled individuals to remain in their homes where in most cases it is supplemented by friends and family. The home is where citizens want to receive care.

The budget reduction plan sets out three amendments that will have a negative impact on the provisions of personal care services.

The amendments reduce provider rates for home- and community-based waiver services by 5 percent, cut the number of respite care hours allowed by 70 percent, and freeze enrollment for one year effective Jan. 1, 2011, which means that once someone leaves a waiver, no one can enter the program.

I question when policy is dramatically changed to the extent of a complete erosion of the community safety net.

These are the times that we should be looking at home- and community-based care as a way to provide more cost-effective care to a larger number of Virginians, not destroying programs and the savings they provide the state.

Contact state Sen. Roscoe Reynolds at General Assembly Building Room 332, P.O. Box 396, Richmond, Va. 23218-0396, and Del. Bill Carrico at State Capitol Building Room 713, P.O. Box 406, Richmond, 23218-0406 to let them know your stance.

Jessica Whitaker of Galax is the Private Duty/Homecare Administrator for Interim Healthcare