Governor announces budget plan amendments to protect Nevada’s most vulnerable residents

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Jim Gibbons announced revisions to his budget balancing plan that will protect medically fragile Nevadans, the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, while still responsibly cutting state spending. Among the changes, the Governor has decided to reinstate adult day health care coverage in Medicaid. Also in Medicaid, the Governor decided to continue covering adult dentures, which were originally proposed for elimination.

“I was simply not comfortable eliminating adult day health care because of the tremendous impact it would have on the 388 families that rely on this service,” the governor said. “We were only able to identify alternative services for about half of these people, and leaving them with nowhere to turn was not an acceptable option.”

Continuing adult day health care will also likely prevent many of these individuals from ending up in nursing homes, which ultimately would have cost the state more money. The same is true for the governor’s decision to continue coverage of dentures.

“Proper nutrition is essential for seniors to continue living independently, and without dentures its likely people’s health would deteriorate rapidly,” Gibbons said.

Among the other major changes to the governor’s budget proposal was reestablishing some housing assistance for Nevadans with developmental disabilities and those suffering from mental illness. Under Gibbons’ revised proposal, the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services will be able to maintain existing housing supports for the developmentally disabled while adding 120 placements in Southern Nevada and 64 placements in Northern Nevada. On the mental health side, the change will allow the division to add 85 residential support placements in southern Nevada, which is the area of greatest need.

“These were recommendations made by the Department of Health and Human Services to reach a budget cut target,” Gibbons said. “Unfortunately to meet that target, we had to look at cutting services to those who are most vulnerable. We need to maintain these services.”

Other changes include reinstating funds for transitional rehabilitation services for people with brain injuries and community corrections services for juveniles that keep them out of institutions. One reason these adjustments can be made is due to a reduction in how much the state must pay the federal government for prescription drugs Nevadans receive that are paid for by Medicare, but were previously funded by the state’s Medicaid program, otherwise known as the Medicare “clawback.” This change will save the state $16.3 million.

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