Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Families Continue Wait for Medicaid Waivers

One in a series of in-depth looks at the Virginia Medicaid waiver situation. Putting a face to the problem.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Kelsey Musick is 14 years old, loves Michael Jackson and likes to dance.

But if she's unhappy, she'll take off and hide.

She needs supervision to get dressed and out the door to catch the school bus. In the kitchen, she can make sandwiches and operate the microwave, but that's about it, her father, Kelly Musick, said.

Kelsey, who has Down syndrome, will need help for the rest of her life.

"I don't see her living independently," the Newport News resident said. "I don't see her ever having a checkbook. She needs mentored caring."

And what her parents can't provide, they hope a Medicaid waiver will.

Across the state, 8,327 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are being served by Medicaid waivers. The waivers allow Medicaid to pay for a wide range of in-home medical services that would not be covered otherwise. As of June 13, 5,790 people were on a waiting list for a waiver. Kelsey is one of them. But she's not one of the 3,216 people on the urgent list.

The state budget, which goes into effect July 1, adds $9.8 million for 275 more waiver slots. But there are about 275 people on the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board's waiting list alone — and about 100 of them are classified as "urgent." Kelsey is not one of them.

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