That pass of the draft budget during the Virginia special legislative session this month will raise over $ 3.1 billion in federal rescue plan (ARPA) funds to the Commonwealth for the next year. Heads of State shared their thoughts on the success of the special session and next steps with State of Reform.
Get the latest country-specific health policy information in your inbox.
Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax) applauded the choice of eight new judges to the Court of Appeal, which was the other main purpose of the session in addition to allocating ARPA funds.
“We have the most historic and diverse selection of judges, both in terms of personal lived experience, work background, geography, when we first sit on our appeals court, and it’s really exciting to have a court that’s more Virginia-themed looks like. ”
Tran also highlighted a section of the budget that includes one-time bonuses of $ 1,000 and a temporary 12.5% increase in reimbursement rates for home care workers.
“This increase is bringing our consumer-focused home care workers here in Northern Virginia over $ 15 an hour for the first time …
ARPA originally allocated $ 4.3 billion to Virginia. However, a significant part of these funds was not allocated during the special session.
Department of Health (VDH) Director Public Health Planning and Evaluation John Ringer says this gives flexibility for future projects.
“From a budget planning perspective, it makes sense to leave some money unallocated so that you can see additional needs when they arise and where resources are needed.”
Scott Johnson, a partner at Hancock Daniel and a health care lobbyist, says referral is relatively conservative.
“Virginia has changed a lot, but it is still very financially conservative on spending and cautious, and they also wanted to make sure during this past special session that whatever they spent is generally viewed as a one-off rather than a continuing expense . “
He says vendors will push in the future for the funds to go towards higher Medicaid reimbursement rates, particularly telemedicine in the face of the pandemic.
Funding for behavioral health was an important part of the budget for the special sessions Shortage of staff crippling state hospitals. Johnson says while the additional funding will help strengthen behavioral health services, there is still a long way to go.
“The last two governors we’ve had both faced behavioral health challenges … whoever the next governor is going to be dealing with. [Addressing behavioral health] is like an aircraft carrier. You can’t reroute it overnight. “
A budget determination that has no dollar amount but is worth noting, according to Johnson, will allow Temporary Nursing Aides (TNAs) to enroll through the Board of Nursing to prepare for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program exam. This was only possible under a government exemption for public health that expired on June 30th. However, the provision allows TNAs to continue to enroll in the context of a 1135 state public health emergency Waiverwhich was extended for another 90 days on July 19.
The Virginia Heath Care Association-Virginia Center for Assisted Living (VHCA-VCAL) welcomed the appointment. April Payne, MBA, LNHA, Chief Quality & Regulatory Affairs Officer and Executive Director of VCAL, said in a statement:
“Given the significant long-term care labor shortage, VHCA-VCAL welcomes the General Assembly for the inclusion of language in the budget to restore eligibility for Temporary Nursing Aides (TNAs) … TNAs have played an important role in the care of nursing home residents during the period of the pandemic by expanding our care pool. ”
See the full special sessions budget, which includes the budget allocations for the 2022-2024 biennium, here.