In the interests of full disclosure, I want to let everyone know that our voices were heard. For those who took the time to write your Virginia senators and delegates, your time was well spent. Thanks for your help. I want to dig a little deeper and go into a little more detail. Our biggest win, in my opinion, is the fact that the Consumer Directed services will remain in the budget. Our other big wins for the disabled community are listed below:

250 new ID Waiver slots added. (as long as VA receives federal matching funds through the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, or FMAP)

Respite hours are not reduced to 240 per year but will instead remain at 720. (again, as long as VA gets matching funds through FMAP)

Waiver provider rates will not be reduced.

No freeze on waiver slots. What this means is that if someone drops out of the waiver program then the next person on the waiting list will get in. With the freeze the numbers would actually drop instead of remaining the same.

Reductions in service and loss of services are listed below.

No new DD waiver slots. This one really hurts us in the autism community. Virginia does not have an autism waiver, unlike Maryland, so families with kids on the spectrum really rely on these waivers.

Environmental Modifications and Assistive Technology portions of the waiver will be reduced from $5,000 to $3,000. However, if we receive funds from FMAP the reductions will only occur in the second year.

Allowable income limits will be reduced to 250% of SSI or $1,685. Currently we use 300% of SSI, or $2,022. However, this will not be put in place if we receive funds from FMAP.

We did sustain some losses and make some compromises, but all in all I feel like we kept the community service model in place. Think about where we started, with institutionalization and seclusion, and where we are now, implementing community services and inclusion. Our kids become more enfranchised and empowered the more we talk about them and share our experiences.

Call or email Governor McDonnell and urge him to pass this budget. It works for our kids.

Also, I want to extend a personal thank you to Senator Edd Houck. He voted with us every step of the way and did a great deal to help our kids. In fact, he was on the Budget Conference Committee that finalized some of these details. If you’re in his district and you have a kid on the spectrum, he has definitely earned your support. Show him you care and send him a thank you letter or email.