HHS Expands HCBS for Elderly, People with Disabilities

More than 40 states and territories will now participate in Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person demonstration program, which has provided billions to help seniors and people with disabilities safely transition from institutional care to their homes and communities On August 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for…

CMS Releases Quality Measure Set to Improve Home & Community-Based Care

On July 21, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will release its first-ever home- and community-Based Services (HCBS) quality measure set to promote consistent quality measurement within and across state Medicaid HCBS programs. The measure set is intended to provide insight into the quality of HCBS programs and enable states to measure…

CMS Releases Quality Measure Set to Improve Home & Community-Based Care

On July 21, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will release its first-ever home- and community-Based Services (HCBS) quality measure set to promote consistent quality measurement within and across state Medicaid HCBS programs. The measure set is intended to provide insight into the quality of HCBS programs and enable states to measure and improve health outcomes for people relying on long-term services and support (LTSS) in Medicaid.

The release of this voluntary measure set is also a critical step to promoting health equity among the millions of older adults and people with disabilities who need LTSS because of disabling conditions and chronic illnesses.

Nationally, over 7 million people receive HCBS under Medicaid, and Medicaid-funded HCBS accounts for $125 billion annually in state and federal spending. Implementation of the HCBS quality measure set will create opportunities for CMS and states to promote more consistent use, within and across states, of nationally standardized quality measures in HCBS programs to promote health equity and reduce disparities in health outcomes among this population.

The HCBS quality measure set is included in a State Medicaid Director Letter (SMDL) that also describes the purpose of the measure set, the measure selection criteria, and considerations for implementation. CMS strongly encourages states to use this information to assess and improve quality and outcomes in their HCBS programs. CMS expects to update the measure set in the future, including adding newly developed measures that address measure gaps, as the field of HCBS measure development advances.

CMS hopes the HCBS quality measure set will promote consistent use of nationally standardized quality measures in HCBS programs within and across states.

“CMS is using every lever available to protect and expand coverage for all people eligible for Medicaid. We are working to expand their access to care across settings — including in the setting of their choice,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a press release.

“Today’s announcement provides states with tools to better understand and compare health outcomes across groups receiving home- and community-based services. The use of consistent quality measures across the country is another step toward reducing health disparities and ensuring that people with disabilities, and older adults enrolled in Medicaid, have access to and receive high-quality services in the community.”

Read the (SMDL) on the HCBS quality measure set HERE.

CMS Releases Quality Measure Set to Improve Home & Community-Based Care

On July 21, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will release its first-ever home- and community-Based Services (HCBS) quality measure set to promote consistent quality measurement within and across state Medicaid HCBS programs. The measure set is intended to provide insight into the quality of HCBS programs and enable states to measure and improve health outcomes for people relying on long-term services and support (LTSS) in Medicaid.

The release of this voluntary measure set is also a critical step to promoting health equity among the millions of older adults and people with disabilities who need LTSS because of disabling conditions and chronic illnesses.

Nationally, over 7 million people receive HCBS under Medicaid, and Medicaid-funded HCBS accounts for $125 billion annually in state and federal spending. Implementation of the HCBS quality measure set will create opportunities for CMS and states to promote more consistent use, within and across states, of nationally standardized quality measures in HCBS programs to promote health equity and reduce disparities in health outcomes among this population.

“We understand these measures will not affect all private home care providers,” said Private Duty Home Care at NAHC Executive Director Kristen Wheeler. However, it is critically important that we monitor this as it unfolds. The letter sent to State Medicaid Directors by CMS states that the use of this measure set is voluntary by states to start, but adds that CMS plans to incorporate the use of the measure set into the reporting requirements for specific authorities and programs, including the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program and future section 1115 demonstrations that include HCBS. Further guidance has been promised and we will share that information as it becomes available.”

The HCBS quality measure set is included in a State Medicaid Director Letter (SMDL) that also describes the purpose of the measure set, the measure selection criteria, and considerations for implementation. CMS strongly encourages states to use this information to assess and improve quality and outcomes in their HCBS programs. CMS expects to update the measure set in the future, including adding newly developed measures that address measure gaps, as the field of HCBS measure development advances.

CMS hopes the HCBS quality measure set will promote consistent use of nationally standardized quality measures in HCBS programs within and across states.

“CMS is using every lever available to protect and expand coverage for all people eligible for Medicaid. We are working to expand their access to care across settings — including in the setting of their choice,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a press release.

“Today’s announcement provides states with tools to better understand and compare health outcomes across groups receiving home- and community-based services. The use of consistent quality measures across the country is another step toward reducing health disparities and ensuring that people with disabilities, and older adults enrolled in Medicaid, have access to and receive high-quality services in the community.”

Read the (SMDL) on the HCBS quality measure set HERE.

Feds Extends American Rescue Plan Spending Deadline for States to Expand Medicaid HCBS

  • States will have an additional year to use American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen the home care workforce and expand access to services

On Friday, June 3, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is notifying states that they now have an additional year — through March 31, 2025 — to use funding made available by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to enhance, expand, and strengthen home- and community-based services (HCBS) for people with Medicaid who need long-term services and supports.

As the primary funder of HCBS nationally, Medicaid plays a critical role in supporting states’ efforts to strengthen these services for their beneficiaries. Section 9817 of the American Rescue Plan provides states with a temporary 10 percentage point increase to the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for certain Medicaid expenditures for HCBS — an estimated $12.7 billion. As a result of the ARP increase in the federal matching rate on activities, states originally had a three-year period — from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2024 — to use the available state funds, attributable to the ARP’s increased FMAP, on activities to enhance, expand, or strengthen HCBS in Medicaid. The extended timeframe, of an additional year, will help to facilitate high-quality, cost-effective, person-centered services for people with Medicaid. This will allow Medicaid beneficiaries to remain in the setting of their choice—whether it is their home or another setting—and remain a valued part of their communities.

This ARP funding allows states to identify and implement changes aimed at addressing existing HCBS workforce and structural issues. It will also help expand states’ capacity to provide critical services and meet the needs of family caregivers and people on HCBS waitlists. Moreover, states can use these funds to tailor HCBS activities based on the needs and priorities of their residents. For example, states can use the funds to provide additional support to address the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals who need long-term services and supports, who are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, and who might otherwise be in more costly nursing homes and other institutions instead of their own homes. Some states are also using the funds to increase pay and benefits for direct service workers, which many states were unable to do before the ARP funding increase due to funding shortages and restrictions.

“Everyone deserves the dignity to live in their own homes and communities, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to protecting that right,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to extended funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, we are expanding home- and community-based services for millions of aging Americans and people with disabilities across the country. We are working hand-in-hand with states to ensure they have the time and support they need to strengthen their home care systems and workforce.”

“With this extension, we are addressing states’ concerns, giving states the time and resources to strengthen connections to care at home and in communities,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the risks of institutional and congregate settings for older Americans and people with disabilities, underscoring the urgent need to expand access to high-quality HCBS to improve outcomes for people who need long-term services and supports. HCBS allow millions of Medicaid beneficiaries to receive services in their own home or community rather than institutions or other isolated settings.

Critical safeguards are in place through the ARP legislation and CMS’ guidance to certify that these funds are used appropriately. Between now and the March 2025 deadline, CMS will continue to monitor states’ progress and compliance to ensure funding is used to strengthen HCBS under their Medicaid program.

Additional information on states’ spending plans — including a recently updated infographic summarizing planned activities and key investments — can be found at Medicaid.gov https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/home-community-based-services/guidance/strengthening-and-investing-home-and-community-based-services-for-medicaid-beneficiaries-american-rescue-plan-act-of-2021-section-9817-spending-plans-and-narratives/index.html.

To review the guidelines for the use of the ARP funds, please visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/smd21003.pdf.

To review the State Medicaid Director Letter extending the spending deadline, please visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/smd22002.pdf.

Feds Extend American Rescue Plan Spending Deadline for States to Expand Medicaid HCBS

  • States will have an additional year to use American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen the home care workforce and expand access to services

On Friday, June 3, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is notifying states that they now have an additional year — through March 31, 2025 — to use funding made available by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to enhance, expand, and strengthen home- and community-based services (HCBS) for people with Medicaid who need long-term services and supports.

“This is very good news,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi. “The ARPA funds are desperately need in Medicaid HCBS but using those founds properly has been a complex undertaking for the states. The added time to use the funds is very welcome.”

As the primary funder of HCBS nationally, Medicaid plays a critical role in supporting states’ efforts to strengthen these services for their beneficiaries. Section 9817 of the American Rescue Plan provides states with a temporary 10 percentage point increase to the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for certain Medicaid expenditures for HCBS — an estimated $12.7 billion. As a result of the ARP increase in the federal matching rate on activities, states originally had a three-year period — from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2024 — to use the available state funds, attributable to the ARP’s increased FMAP, on activities to enhance, expand, or strengthen HCBS in Medicaid. The extended timeframe, of an additional year, will help to facilitate high-quality, cost-effective, person-centered services for people with Medicaid. This will allow Medicaid beneficiaries to remain in the setting of their choice—whether it is their home or another setting—and remain a valued part of their communities.

This ARP funding allows states to identify and implement changes aimed at addressing existing HCBS workforce and structural issues. It will also help expand states’ capacity to provide critical services and meet the needs of family caregivers and people on HCBS waitlists. Moreover, states can use these funds to tailor HCBS activities based on the needs and priorities of their residents. For example, states can use the funds to provide additional support to address the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals who need long-term services and supports, who are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, and who might otherwise be in more costly nursing homes and other institutions instead of their own homes. Some states are also using the funds to increase pay and benefits for direct service workers, which many states were unable to do before the ARP funding increase due to funding shortages and restrictions.

“Everyone deserves the dignity to live in their own homes and communities, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to protecting that right,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to extended funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, we are expanding home- and community-based services for millions of aging Americans and people with disabilities across the country. We are working hand-in-hand with states to ensure they have the time and support they need to strengthen their home care systems and workforce.”

“With this extension, we are addressing states’ concerns, giving states the time and resources to strengthen connections to care at home and in communities,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the risks of institutional and congregate settings for older Americans and people with disabilities, underscoring the urgent need to expand access to high-quality HCBS to improve outcomes for people who need long-term services and supports. HCBS allow millions of Medicaid beneficiaries to receive services in their own home or community rather than institutions or other isolated settings.

Critical safeguards are in place through the ARP legislation and CMS’ guidance to certify that these funds are used appropriately. Between now and the March 2025 deadline, CMS will continue to monitor states’ progress and compliance to ensure funding is used to strengthen HCBS under their Medicaid program.

Additional information on states’ spending plans — including a recently updated infographic summarizing planned activities and key investments — can be found at Medicaid.gov https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/home-community-based-services/guidance/strengthening-and-investing-home-and-community-based-services-for-medicaid-beneficiaries-american-rescue-plan-act-of-2021-section-9817-spending-plans-and-narratives/index.html.

To review the guidelines for the use of the ARP funds, please visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/smd21003.pdf.

To review the State Medicaid Director Letter extending the spending deadline, please visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/smd22002.pdf.

Feds Extend American Rescue Plan Spending Deadline for States to Expand Medicaid HCBS

States will have an additional year to use American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen the home care workforce and expand access to services On Friday, June 3, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is notifying states that they now have an additional year…

New CMS Website Will Share Innovative State Actions to Expand Medicaid HCBS

  • CMS also approves earlier application for Alabama’s section 1115 demonstration to improve access to home and community-based services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched a new “one-stop shop” for state Medicaid agencies and stakeholders on Medicaid.gov to advance transparency and innovation for home and community-based services. Home and community-based services allow people enrolled in Medicaid to receive services and supports in a preferred setting outside of an institution, such as in their own home. Through this new webpage, state Medicaid agencies and stakeholders can access information about states’ plans to enhance, expand, and strengthen home and community-based services across the country using new Medicaid funding made available by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP).

Additionally, CMS has approved a new Medicaid section 1115 demonstration in Alabama, entitled the “Community Waiver Program,” to operate concurrently with a home and community-based services 1915(c) waiver. This new opportunity in the state’s Medicaid program will increase access to home and community-based services, and allow the state to meet the needs of additional individuals who prefer to get long-term care services and supports in their home or community rather than an institutional setting.

“One-stop Shop” for Plans to Enhance, Expand, & Strengthen Home and Community-based Services

To encourage states to expand home and community-based services and strengthen their programs, the Biden-Harris Administration implemented a funding increase established by the ARP. The ARP provided states with a temporary 10 percentage point increase in federal Medicaid funding for certain Medicaid home and community-based services from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, if they meet certain requirements. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the additional federal funding made available under the ARP allows those enrolled in Medicaid who need long-term services and supports to receive the assistance required to reside in the setting of their choice.

“The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes the value and dignity that come with access to home and community-based services,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we can support states working to expand access to home and community-based services for Medicaid beneficiaries. With the launch of this new online hub, we’re making it easy for states to exchange ideas on how best to care for their residents.”

“The ability to access health care at home or in the community is essential for many low-income families, older adults, and individuals with disabilities who rely on Medicaid services — especially during this unprecedented public health emergency,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, CMS is providing state Medicaid agencies with the tools and funding needed to expand this important care. We welcome the opportunity to work with states to expand home and community-based services to meet the needs of their communities.”

The announcement issued today reinforces CMS’s commitment to assist states in response to the public health emergency. State administrators and stakeholders are encouraged to visit Medicaid.gov to view states’ programs and activities to identify innovative approaches that can support home and community-based services and improve capacity building and infrastructure in their area by drawing inspiration from other states.

For example, some states are delivering vaccines to people with disabilities and older adults through mobile COVID-19 vaccination programs. Other states are focusing on the potential of home and community-based services to help people with Medicaid coverage receive care outside a skilled nursing facility after a hospitalization, when aligned with the beneficiary’s goals. Other activities may include expanding and implementing new, community-based behavioral health crisis response services, ensuring that a qualified provider with training quickly and properly responds to mental health and substance use-related crisis situations. Many states are also providing recruitment and retention bonuses and increasing pay for direct support professionals, as well as implementing new training programs and other strategies to strengthen the direct support workforce. These actions allow Medicaid enrollees to receive care in the comfort of their own home or in a preferred community setting.

To view the home and community-based services webpage with states’ ARP section 9817 spending plans and narratives, letters issued to states on their spending plans and narratives, and other important information related to the implementation of ARP section 9817, please visit https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/home-community-based-services/guidance/strengthening-and-investing-home-and-community-based-services-for-medicaid-beneficiaries-american-rescue-plan-act-of-2021-section-9817-spending-plans-and-narratives/index.html.

For additional information on ARP funding for home and community-based services, see the guidance that CMS issued to states via a State Medicaid Director Letter in May of this year.

New Demonstration for Home and Community-based Services in Alabama

The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to help states that have long been at work to advance home and community-based services. Separate from the new website launched today, CMS has approved Alabama’s earlier application for a section 1115 demonstration, entitled “Community Waiver Program.” The 1115 demonstration will operate concurrently with a home and community-based services 1915(c) waiver in Alabama, a new opportunity in the state’s Medicaid program to meet the needs of additional individuals who prefer to get long-term care services and supports in their home or community rather than an institutional setting. Together, Alabama’s 1115 demonstration and 1915(c) waiver will increase access to home and community-based services for many Alabamans who are currently on a waiting list.

The state will now be able to redesign its home and community-based services delivery system to address concerns, such as long waiting lists, high use of residential services and out-of-home placements, and low integrated community employment rates among its residents. CMS will also provide the authority needed for Alabama to create a new program that supports individuals with intellectual disabilities who choose to work, live with family, or live independently.

“It is important we find ways to collaborate to help Alabamians in need, particularly those with intellectual disabilities. My Administration is pleased to offer the Community Waiver Program, which focuses on serving individuals with intellectual disabilities before they are in crisis,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “The partnership between the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the Alabama Medicaid Agency will help integrate these individuals in the community, giving them a better chance to develop skills to work and live independently.”

To view Alabama’s section 1115 demonstration approval and the new 1915(c) waiver, visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/section-1115-demo/demonstration-and-waiver-list/101016.

New CMS Website Will Share Innovative State Actions to Expand Medicaid HCBS

CMS also approves earlier application for Alabama’s section 1115 demonstration to improve access to home and community-based services The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched a new “one-stop shop” for state Medicaid agencies and stakeholders on Medicaid.gov to advance transparency and innovation for home and community-based services. Home and community-based services allow…

New CMS Website Will Share Innovative State Actions to Expand Medicaid HCBS

  • CMS also approves earlier application for Alabama’s section 1115 demonstration to improve access to home and community-based services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched a new “one-stop shop” for state Medicaid agencies and stakeholders on Medicaid.gov to advance transparency and innovation for home and community-based services. Home and community-based services allow people enrolled in Medicaid to receive services and supports in a preferred setting outside of an institution, such as in their own home. Through this new webpage, state Medicaid agencies and stakeholders can access information about states’ plans to enhance, expand, and strengthen home and community-based services across the country using new Medicaid funding made available by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP).

Additionally, CMS has approved a new Medicaid section 1115 demonstration in Alabama, entitled the “Community Waiver Program,” to operate concurrently with a home and community-based services 1915(c) waiver. This new opportunity in the state’s Medicaid program will increase access to home and community-based services, and allow the state to meet the needs of additional individuals who prefer to get long-term care services and supports in their home or community rather than an institutional setting.

“One-stop Shop” for Plans to Enhance, Expand, & Strengthen Home and Community-based Services

To encourage states to expand home and community-based services and strengthen their programs, the Biden-Harris Administration implemented a funding increase established by the ARP. The ARP provided states with a temporary 10 percentage point increase in federal Medicaid funding for certain Medicaid home and community-based services from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, if they meet certain requirements. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the additional federal funding made available under the ARP allows those enrolled in Medicaid who need long-term services and supports to receive the assistance required to reside in the setting of their choice.

“The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes the value and dignity that come with access to home and community-based services,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we can support states working to expand access to home and community-based services for Medicaid beneficiaries. With the launch of this new online hub, we’re making it easy for states to exchange ideas on how best to care for their residents.”

“The ability to access health care at home or in the community is essential for many low-income families, older adults, and individuals with disabilities who rely on Medicaid services — especially during this unprecedented public health emergency,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, CMS is providing state Medicaid agencies with the tools and funding needed to expand this important care. We welcome the opportunity to work with states to expand home and community-based services to meet the needs of their communities.”

The announcement issued today reinforces CMS’s commitment to assist states in response to the public health emergency. State administrators and stakeholders are encouraged to visit Medicaid.gov to view states’ programs and activities to identify innovative approaches that can support home and community-based services and improve capacity building and infrastructure in their area by drawing inspiration from other states.

For example, some states are delivering vaccines to people with disabilities and older adults through mobile COVID-19 vaccination programs. Other states are focusing on the potential of home and community-based services to help people with Medicaid coverage receive care outside a skilled nursing facility after a hospitalization, when aligned with the beneficiary’s goals. Other activities may include expanding and implementing new, community-based behavioral health crisis response services, ensuring that a qualified provider with training quickly and properly responds to mental health and substance use-related crisis situations. Many states are also providing recruitment and retention bonuses and increasing pay for direct support professionals, as well as implementing new training programs and other strategies to strengthen the direct support workforce. These actions allow Medicaid enrollees to receive care in the comfort of their own home or in a preferred community setting.

To view the home and community-based services webpage with states’ ARP section 9817 spending plans and narratives, letters issued to states on their spending plans and narratives, and other important information related to the implementation of ARP section 9817, please visit https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/home-community-based-services/guidance/strengthening-and-investing-home-and-community-based-services-for-medicaid-beneficiaries-american-rescue-plan-act-of-2021-section-9817-spending-plans-and-narratives/index.html.

For additional information on ARP funding for home and community-based services, see the guidance that CMS issued to states via a State Medicaid Director Letter in May of this year.

New Demonstration for Home and Community-based Services in Alabama

The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to help states that have long been at work to advance home and community-based services. Separate from the new website launched today, CMS has approved Alabama’s earlier application for a section 1115 demonstration, entitled “Community Waiver Program.” The 1115 demonstration will operate concurrently with a home and community-based services 1915(c) waiver in Alabama, a new opportunity in the state’s Medicaid program to meet the needs of additional individuals who prefer to get long-term care services and supports in their home or community rather than an institutional setting. Together, Alabama’s 1115 demonstration and 1915(c) waiver will increase access to home and community-based services for many Alabamans who are currently on a waiting list.

The state will now be able to redesign its home and community-based services delivery system to address concerns, such as long waiting lists, high use of residential services and out-of-home placements, and low integrated community employment rates among its residents. CMS will also provide the authority needed for Alabama to create a new program that supports individuals with intellectual disabilities who choose to work, live with family, or live independently.

“It is important we find ways to collaborate to help Alabamians in need, particularly those with intellectual disabilities. My Administration is pleased to offer the Community Waiver Program, which focuses on serving individuals with intellectual disabilities before they are in crisis,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “The partnership between the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the Alabama Medicaid Agency will help integrate these individuals in the community, giving them a better chance to develop skills to work and live independently.”

To view Alabama’s section 1115 demonstration approval and the new 1915(c) waiver, visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/section-1115-demo/demonstration-and-waiver-list/101016.