RICHMOND – Norfolk home care provider Julia Newton said she waited 10 years for a waiver so that Medicaid would provide in-home services for her 29-year-old son, who is autistic and suffers from Crohn’s disease and seizures.
They finally qualified last year, but still 7,000 Virginians are waiting for one of a limited number of waivers, and 3,000 more will lose those benefits when budget cuts take effect next year, Newton said this morning during a press conference at the General Assembly Building in Richmond.
Instead, they’ll qualify for nursing home assistance, which is more expensive to taxpayers and requires people who are elderly or disabled to leave their homes, their families and their communities, she said.
The General Assembly can do something about that by participating in Medicaid expansion and funding more waiver slots for home care, Newton said. She was one of about 100 home care providers and public employees lobbying Virginia’s legislators today, asking for more support.
Also on the group’s agenda is wage increases for home care providers, who make $8.86 an hour without sick days, vacation time, health insurance or retirement benefits, said David Broder, president of the union that represents many of those workers, SEIU Virginia 512. Medicaid expansion would provide health insurance and a proposed budget amendment would allow them to take paid sick days and raise wages to $9.76 an hour.
“I challenge anybody to live on that kind of salary and to think you can afford to take sick days,” said Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, in pledging support for those proposals. “You shouldn’t have to decide whether to put food on your table when you’re ill or go to work … It’s time we respect home care providers much more than we do.”
- Kathy Adams, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot