Senate approves budget in special session

The Senate voted 31-8 last week to accept a budget proposal by the Finance and Appropriations subcommittee during its special session. The passage means representatives from both the Senate and House of Delegates will haggle out details of the third two-year spending plan the General Assembly has dealt with since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.


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In the Health and Human Resources subcommittee report, Sen. Emmett W. Hanger, Jr., co-chair of the Health and Human Resources subcommittee, said this area of the budget would be a “net saver” — thanks to enhanced federal match funds for Medicaid provided to the state due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The most recent information indicates the enhanced federal funding will last through the end of the 2021 and save an additional $330.6 million in state funds.

Though Gov. Ralph Northam’s budget proposed $120 million from the general fund — mainly for the COVID-19 response, the subcommittee also recommends using $108 million in newly available federal funds for that purpose. The subcommittee is focusing its efforts on maximizing federal funds for the pandemic response, so as to redirect state funds to issues like personal care rates and supporting Medicaid providers that were adversely affected by COVID-19.

Hanger said he was pleased to report the subcommittee recommends a 6.4% increase in personal care rates starting on May 1 and another 14.3% starting on Nov. 1.

“The rates will raise the pay for personal care aides to reflect the increases in the minimum wage and ensure a stable workforce to care for Virginias in their home.”

The subcommittee also recommends adding 650 developmental disability waiver slots, which will cost $10.8 million in fiscal year 2022. That will bring the total number of funded slots to 1,200 for the year. Another $15 million in one-time support for developmental disability waiver providers that have been impacted by COVID-19 is also recommended to stabilize the providers until service levels increase again.

The subcommittee also recommends adopting restorations proposed by the governor, including:

  • $9.2 million for foster care prevention services
  • $3.8 million for pilot projects to reduce state psychiatric hospital pressure
  • $3.1 million to expand forensic discharge planning in jails

Also recommended:

  • $9 million to support 75 positions across the state’s health district to improve disease surveillance
  • $4.4 million to increase the Auxiliary Grant rate by 20% for individuals residing in assisted living facilities

Hanger concluded by saying:

“I have covered many of the larger funding items in Health and Human Resources, but there are many smaller items the subcommittee recommends that will support people with disabilities, increase the health care workforce, improve Medicaid services and make key investments in our social services system.”