By Del. Carrie Coyner
Committee meetings this week were lengthy as bills were pushed through subcommittees in order to allow time for the bills to be vetted in full committees and on the House floor. I presented in seven committees, on the House floor and advanced four of my bills successfully. Of particular note was HB 925, which passed unanimously (22-0) out of the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee and will be on the House Floor for vote by the full membership this week.
HB 925 is a bill that requires the Department of Medical Assistance Services to work with individuals with disabilities who are eligible to transfer from Home and Community Based Services to the Medicaid Works waiver program. Medicaid Works allows individuals with disabilities to earn higher wages and still receive support services, but many people don’t take the risk of leaving a Home and Community Based waiver to try Medicaid Works because there is no safety net if you make the change but realize the modified support services won’t work to meet your needs. This bill gives individuals with disabilities 180 days to try Medicaid Works without losing their previous waiver and also includes a guarantee that you will be prioritized if you no longer qualify for Medicaid Works and need to transition back to a previous waiver. This bill should reduce risks for individuals with disabilities who want to try more rigorous, higher paying jobs and it should eventually reduce the current waiting list for Home and Community Based waiver programs.
Last Monday was a lobby day for many groups of educators. They assembled in support for pay raises and more funding for public schools to address greater retention, increased support services, and smaller class size. Our teachers are a valuable resource to our students on their pathways to social, emotional, and economic maturity. Our strong public schools are a valuable resource for our communities, and the state should do all it can to provide the compensation and tools for our teachers and schools to be successful.
In addition to teachers from our schools, I met with many constituents involved in education such as school board members, PTA organizations, principals, and future teachers. As a parent, legislator, past school board member, and former student I extend my deepest, heartfelt ”thank you” to all who guide and develop our students through instruction, caring, life lessons and dedication.