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Support for Family Caregivers in Virginia

Each year, MS activists urge Congress to continue funding the Lifespan Respite Care Program. Since 2009, thirty states and the District of Columbia have received grants to establish or enhance programs that better coordinate and deliver quality respite services to our nation’s more than 60 million family caregivers. State grantees have made great strides, with some running awareness campaigns and others establishing statewide databases of available respite care. Some states—like Virginia—have started providing vouchers to families to choose and purchase quality respite care.  
 
Ray Heron’s wife Pam has MS and has needed round-the-clock care since the late 1990s. During weekdays, Ray spends about three hours each morning and four hours each evening caring for Pam. While he is at work, Medicaid fortunately covers a certified nurse assistant to feed Pam breakfast, lunch and dinner, and manage her other needs including positioning to avoid pressure sores. 
 
Ray and Pam were excited when, through his volunteerism with the Society, Ray heard about Virginia’s Lifespan Respite Voucher Program. Ray called the agency that provides Pam’s care and discovered that the vouchers would fill the gaps in Pam’s Medicaid-paid care for up to three days. Ray and Pam applied and were approved for a voucher, which enabled Pam to have the support she needs and Ray to visit his parents—a six-hour drive away—who he hadn’t been able to see in years. 
 
Ray is proud to call himself a family caregiver and happily points out a priceless benefit: “I still get to spend every day with Pam.”

Advocacy Achievements Help Safeguard Options For Those Living With MS
 
People living with multiple sclerosis have several reasons to rejoice following the passage of the 2013 New York State budget.  It includes provisions to help safeguard options for those living with multiple sclerosis (“MS”).
 
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society-New York MS Coalition Action Network (“NY MS CAN”) is proud of our accomplishments this legislative session and looks forward to future successes on existing and emerging public policy issues impacting those living with MS.
 
NY MS CAN represents New York’s three National Multiple Sclerosis Society chapters and the approximately 34,000 families in New York affected by MS.  According to data analyzed by the National MS Society, New York State is one of 10 states with the highest incidence of multiple sclerosis in the nation.

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