Study of auxiliary grants moves forward

February 2, 2021

SJ 293 (Spruill) requests the Joint Commission on Health Care to examine issues surrounding the financing of long-term care for individuals of limited means.  The study resolution requests the Commission to review data regarding the use of the Auxiliary Grant, as well as to investigate broader use of Medicaid to support assisted living costs, with the goal of developing “a more realistic system of addressing housing and care needs for those Virginians in need of home and community-based services and supports, and assisted living and nursing home care.”

The Auxiliary Grant provides an income supplement to certain individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income and other individuals meeting certain criteria who reside in an assisted living facility, adult foster care home, or supportive housing.  Localities provide a 20 percent match for these grants, which cover room and board and basic maintenance and care for recipients.  Assisted living facility providers have long contended that the payment rates are inadequate to cover the true costs of caring for recipients.  VACo’s Health and Human Resources Steering Committee has been discussing the need to examine how Virginia serves aging adults, and sent a letter to the Joint Commission on Health Care last fall encouraging a review of ways to support aging adults and consideration of what a modern-day safety net should look like and how it should be funded.

A related bill, SB 1185 (Dunnavant), would provide an enhanced auxiliary grant rate for assisted living facilities in which a large percentage of residents are auxiliary grant recipients.  VACo had expressed concern about the bill as introduced, which would have provided that facilities in which 30 percent or more of the residents are auxiliary grant recipients would receive 200 percent of the auxiliary grant rate; this increase would also entail a parallel increase in the local share, which could be challenging for some localities. VACo encouraged legislators to take a broader look at the auxiliary grant as a mechanism to fund assisted living, as SJ 293 would do, or perhaps provide the additional supplement with state funds.  The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee’s Health and Human Resources Subcommittee members opted not to move forward with the bill, but expressed a desire to continue to work on the issue, perhaps through the budget process.

SJ 293 was reported from the Senate Rules Committee on January 29; VACo spoke in support.

VACo Contact:  Katie Boyle

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