Waivers: Assistance process must be accelerated

About 1,060 West Virginians entitled to state assistance with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities would like to receive that aid in their homes rather than institutions. Despite the fact that would save taxpayers’ money, those men, women and children have had to wait, some for years, to get waivers allowing them to make the change.

That is more than ridiculous. If the state Department of Health and Human Resources is not processing the waivers as expeditiously as possible, it is irresponsible, to put it mildly.

Gov. Jim Justice has directed the DHHR to investigate ways of eliminating the waiting list for the waiver program. He expects a report by Jan. 15

Justice’s timing is good. It provides time for him to look at the DHHR’s report and, if necessary, seek action by the Legislature if changes in the law are needed to speed up the waiver program.

Some of those on the waitlist for DHHR action on waivers have been there for four years, Justice said. “We absolutely must find a way to eliminate the waitlist so that these West Virginians can get the help and support they deserve,” he added.

And, the governor pointed out, giving more people waivers so they can get help without being institutionalized is good for the state budget. Services provided through the waiver program cost 46% less than those provided by intermediate care facilities, Justice’s office noted.

DHHR officials are right to examine requests for waivers carefully. Granting them may not be the best thing for some people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. But for those who would benefit, state government should accelerate the process instead of forcing them to wait for years.


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