Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has announced a $300 million funding plan to provide priority one waiver slots for Virginians with developmental disabilities and those who are on the current waitlist. The plan is part of his Right Help, Right Now initiative, which aims to transform the state’s behavioral health system.
What are priority one waiver slots and why are they important?
Priority one waiver slots are Medicaid Home and Community-Based Developmental Disability (DD) waivers that offer support and services to both children and adults on Medicaid who have urgent needs. The services differ based on the individual’s need and the program criteria, but they may include medical care, employment supports, assistance for community living, behavioral interventions and more.
According to the Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin, there are currently over 3,400 Virginians on the priority one waiting list for DD waiver slots. These are people who need the services and supports offered by the waiver in one year or less, or they may face the risk of institutionalization or harm. Without the waiver, they may not be able to afford or access the care they need to live independently and safely in their communities.
How will Youngkin’s plan address the waiting list?
Youngkin’s plan will allocate $300 million from the state’s budget surplus to fund enough priority one waiver slots for everyone on the waiting list, as well as those who will be added to the list in the next two years. This means that by the end of his term, no Virginian with a developmental disability will have to wait for more than a year to receive the services they need.
The plan will also increase the reimbursement rates for providers who deliver DD waiver services, to ensure quality and availability of care. Additionally, the plan will expand the eligibility criteria for the Family and Individual Support waiver, which serves people with less urgent needs, to include more people with autism spectrum disorder.
What are the benefits of Youngkin’s plan for Virginians with developmental disabilities?
Youngkin’s plan will have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of Virginians with developmental disabilities and their families. By providing them with the necessary support and services, the plan will help them achieve their goals, improve their well-being, and enhance their inclusion and participation in society.
The plan will also reduce the pressure and stress on the families and caregivers of people with developmental disabilities, who often have to bear the financial and emotional burden of providing care. By offering them more options and resources, the plan will enable them to balance their own needs and responsibilities with those of their loved ones.
Furthermore, the plan will benefit the state’s economy and public health, by reducing the reliance on costly and restrictive institutional care, and by increasing the opportunities for employment and education for people with developmental disabilities.
How does Youngkin’s plan fit into his broader behavioral health agenda?
Youngkin’s plan is a supplement to his Right Help, Right Now initiative, which he launched in December 2023 to fix Virginia’s inadequate and overburdened behavioral health system. The initiative includes several measures to improve access, quality, and coordination of care for people with mental health and substance use disorders, such as:
- Implementing the 988 national suicide prevention hotline and expanding mobile crisis response teams
- Increasing the availability and affordability of crisis stabilization units and psychiatric beds
- Investing in prevention and early intervention programs, especially for children and youth
- Enhancing the integration of behavioral health and primary care
- Supporting the recovery and reentry of people with behavioral health issues who are involved in the criminal justice system
Youngkin’s plan for Virginians with developmental disabilities is consistent with his vision of creating a behavioral health system that is person-centered, community-based, and outcome-driven. By addressing the needs and challenges of this vulnerable population, he is demonstrating his commitment to ensuring that every Virginian has the right help at the right time.