Virginia reached a $2 billion settlement with the Department of Justice Thursday, agreeing to close four of its five state institutions that house developmentally and intellectually disabled residents.
The settlement comes after nearly a year of negotiations with the Justice Department, which determined after a lengthy investigation that Virginia violated federal law by unnecessarily housing people in institutions instead of providing them with community-based services, The Associated Press reports.
The state was ordered to shutter the institutions by 2020 and move the impacted people to their home, their family homes or group homes.
The state will offer home and community-based Medicaid waivers to nearly 4,200 people, provide family supports to 1,000 people already living in the community and expand crisis services, including hotlines, mobile crisis teams and short-term crisis stabilization programs.
It will also provide a fund for housing assistance, coordinate rental assistance programs and implement a comprehensive risk management system to ensure that people receive services they need and have opportunities for community inclusion.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova (D) and Braddock District Supervisor John C. Cook (R) issued a joint statement saying that the agreement would require the closing of the Northern Virginia Training Center on Braddock Road by 2015.
"We have already had some very preliminary discussions at the county level regarding the opportunities we may have for serving this population and for the future use of the NVTC grounds," they said in the statement. "We are committed to working with our partners in the Commonwealth, the Community Services Board, and others to ensure that residents of NVTC and their families who depend on the services it provides will be treated fairly, respectfully and with sensitivity. We are also mindful of concerns the neighboring community may have regarding future use of the NVTC campus and will do our best to ensure the community is engaged in plans for re-use of the site."
Of the $2 billion it will take to implement the settlement agreement, the AP said $935 million would come from the federal government.
The money saved by closing the facilities will hopefully bring the state's cost down to about $340 million over the 10 years.
The assistant attorney general for the civil rights division of the Department of Justice said in a statement:
“As affirmed by the Supreme Court over a decade ago, people with disabilities should be given the same opportunities to participate in community life as those without disabilities."
Perez commended Gov. Bob McDonnell for his cooperation and leadership during the investigation and settlement.
* The Virginia Senate passed its hunting bill today, allowing residents statewide to hunt on private property on Sundays.
The measure passed with a 29-11 vote and restricts hunting within 250 yards of a place of worship on Sundays, The Washington Times reports.
* A group of Maryland lawmakers announced Thursday a common agenda of bills that both Democrats and Republicans could support, according to The Baltimore Sun.
These bills with bipartisan support include veterans' scholarships, identify theft from children, promotion of social studies in schools, helping high-tech workers with the cost of security clearances and protecting family farms from estate taxes.
The Baltimore Sun reported Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller saying at a news conference in the Senate’s lounge:
"On the issues where we can find common ground, we're going to show people we talk together, we work together and we're going to have their interests at heart," Miller said.
* Maryland once again delayed awarding a $2.4 billion contract to manage its prescription drug plan for its employees, retirees and their families, according to The Baltimore Business Journal.
The state seemed likely to pick St. Louis-based Express Scripts for the job over the current management company, Rockville-based Catalyst Rx, because of lower costs. The two companies have been battling for the post for more than a year.
But the state comptroller requested at the Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday that the decision be delayed until Feb. 8, saying the state did not provide proper notice of its intent to award the contract.
If Express Scripts is selected, state employees and their families will not be able to get their prescriptions from Walgreens.
Walgreens, according to The Baltimore Sun, left the Express Scripts network Jan. 1 after the two companies failed to agree on how much the benefits manager would pay for drugs. Walgreens is currently protesting the state’s proposed award to Express Scripts, the Sun reported.