Allow Increases In ‘Waiver’ Program

One hundred twenty West Virginians who, though challenged by disabilities, illness or age, would rather have stayed in their homes than in nursing facilities will get the opportunity to do so, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said last week.

Through the Aged and Disabled Waiver Services program, part of Medicaid, those people will get help paying for in-home care.

The waiver program is an excellent one. It makes life more pleasant for participants – and, because in-home care usually is less expensive than nursing homes, it can save money for the state’s Medicaid program.

But openings for the waiver program are limited. Tomblin explained the 120 vacancies are because previous beneficiaries died, left the state or had to transfer to nursing homes for health reasons.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved just 7,210 slots for in-home care during the current fiscal year in West Virginia. Why the limit?

If state officials can save money for Medicaid and Medicare, while allowing clients to stay in their own homes, why not eliminate the limit? That would be real health care reform.