Last Modified: Thursday, November 28, 2013 7:44 PM
Gov. Bobby Jindal touched off a firestorm of protest earlier this year when he vetoed a state spending increase for home-based medical services.
Now the Jindal administration is trying to ensure that more families receive services from the New Opportunity Waiver. The waiver, also known as NOW, would have been expanded with the additional money, but budget constraints forced Jindal to nix the additional funding.
Department of Health and Hospital officials told state lawmakers recently that 8,575 waiver slots are filled, but there are more than 11,000 potential clients who remain on a waiting list for the services.
The waivers can be used to help families buy equipment and make alterations to their home to care for a family member there.
DHH officials said one of their first tasks was to ensure that the active and waiting list roles have been purged of people who have died or may no longer need the service because they have moved into a group home or out of state.
They also said they are making a policy shift, giving priority to clients who need the services most rather than to those who have been on the waiting list the longest.
And in an effort to create greater transparency, DHH will set up a website to allow families to view where they stand on the waiting list.
The governor’s veto caused such a stir that some state lawmakers talked about convening a special session to override it. That failed when they could not get enough of their colleagues to go along.
Harsh critics have changed their tune in the meantime, praising the Jindal administration for listening and addressing their concerns.
Jason Durham, who wrote several letters to the editor of daily newspapers throughout the state earlier this year, commended the Jindal administration for listening to concerns from affected family members.
“They have developed stakeholder groups,” he told The Advocate of Baton Rouge. “I think they are moving forward in the right direction. I may not agree with everything, but I know they are truly investigating.”
With not enough money to cover all the costs, there’s a long line waiting for services. Credit the Jindal administration for trying to ensure that the most clients and those with the greatest need for services attain them.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Mike Jones, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.