HHS to Provide $110 Million in HCBS for Seniors & Disabled

Scroll down for more info on webinars for funding applicants The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will offer more than $110 million to expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS) through Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. First authorized in 2005, MFP has provided states with $4.06 billion to…

HHS to Provide $110 Million in HCBS for Seniors & Disabled

  • Scroll down for more info on webinars for funding applicants

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will offer more than $110 million to expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS) through Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person (MFP) program.

First authorized in 2005, MFP has provided states with $4.06 billion to support people who choose to transition out of institutions and back into their homes and communities. The new Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) makes individual awards of up to $5 million available for more than 20 states and territories not currently participating in MFP. These funds will support initial planning and implementation to get the state/territory programs off the ground, which would ensure more people with Medicaid can receive high-quality, cost-effective, person-centered services in a setting they choose.

“NAHC has long supported the Money Follows the Person program,” said NAHC Director of Government Affairs Calvin McDaniel. “The announced funds will provide additional investment and opportunities for states to enhance their HCBS offerings. Continued investments in HCBS further rebalances spending on long-term services and supports in favor of the home. This investment is consistent with President Biden’s goals of improving access to care in the home. NAHC encourages the eligible states and territories to apply for these new funds.”

HCBS is a critical component of the Medicaid program and the MFP program has been a critical tool, now with the potential to do more in a broader array of states and territories.

To help additional states and territories implement MFP, these awards will support the early planning phase to get an MFP program off the ground. This includes:

  • Establishing partnerships with community stakeholders, including those representing diverse and underserved populations, Tribal entities and governments, key state and local agencies (such as state and local public housing authorities), and community-based organizations;
  • Conducting system assessments to better understand how HCBS support local residents;
  • Developing programs for the types of community transitions MFP supports;
  • Establishing or enhancing Medicaid HCBS quality improvement programs;
  • Recruiting HCBS providers as well as expert providers for transition coordination and technical assistance; and
  • Conducting a range of planning activities deemed necessary by the award recipients and approved by CMS.

State Medicaid agencies not currently participating in the MFP demonstration may apply through the NOFO no later than May 31, 2022. To access the NOFO, visit Grants.gov or here https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=334196

For states already participating in MFP, CMS also announced that the agency is increasing the reimbursement rate for MFP “supplemental services.” These services will now be 100% federally funded with no state share. Further, CMS is expanding the definition of supplemental services to include additional services that can support an individual’s transition from an institution to the community, including short-term housing and food assistance. These changes will help further address critical barriers to community living for eligible individuals, as well as increase community transition rates and the effectiveness of the MFP demonstration overall. For more information on current and previous grantees, visit Medicaid.gov. CMS will provide additional information on these changes to MFP grantees.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to live at home, in their communities, and with their loved ones,” said Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This funding will bring dignity and peace of mind to even more seniors and people with disabilities across the country. We will continue expanding these programs to ensure all Americans have equitable access to the high-quality health care they deserve—no matter where they live.”

Money Follows the Person Demonstration Expansion: Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Webinars for Applicants

CMS released a Notice of Funding Opportunity that will offer up to $110 million to expand access to home and community-based services (HBCS) through Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. The new NOFO authorized under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA) will make individual awards of up to $5 million to states and territories that are not currently participating in MFP. These funds will support states during the initial planning and implementation of their programs.

CMS will hold two webinars to provide details about the MFP Demonstration Expansion, and to answer questions from potential applicants regarding this funding opportunity. Registration is required. The webinars will be held:

April 13, 2022 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (ET)

Registration: Click on https://cms.zoomgov.com/j/1601853787?pwd=Vm9UTUoyRnpVVStjSEo1QlZYWURPUT09

April 27, 2022 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (ET)

Registration: Click on  https://cms.zoomgov.com/j/1612862544?pwd=MGd3YW5nUVJ4T050bWFraTV6V0Y1UT09

Democrats Introduce Legislation to Invest in HCBS, Increase Worker Pay

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate unveiled legislation, the Better Care Better Jobs Act,  yesterday to implement the Biden administration’s goal of spending hundreds of billions of dollars on home-based care in the coming years. The legislation would give states far more money to invest in and expand home-and-community-based care programs. States…

Democrats Introduce Legislation to Invest in HCBS, Increase Worker Pay

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate unveiled legislation, the Better Care Better Jobs Act,  yesterday to implement the Biden administration’s goal of spending hundreds of billions of dollars on home-based care in the coming years.

The legislation would give states far more money to invest in and expand home-and-community-based care programs. States would be given $100 million, by no later than one calendar year after enactment of the legislation, to create plans to expand access to Medicaid HCBS and “strengthen” the HCBS workforce.

Over 3.5 million older adults and people with disabilities are currently receiving HCBS.

The bills would “strengthen and expand access to HCBS” by expanding financial eligibility criteria for HCBS to federal limits; requiring coverage for personal care services; expanding supports for family caregivers; adopting programs that help people navigate enrollment and eligibility; expanding access to behavioral health care; improving coordination with housing, transportation, and employment supports; and developing or improving programs to allow working people with
disabilities to access HCBS.

In addition, the bills would “strengthen and expand the HCBS workforce” by addressing HCBS payment rates to promote
recruitment and retention of direct care workers; regularly updating HCBS payment rates with public input; passing rate increases through to direct care workers to increase wages; and updating and developing training opportunities for this workforce as well as family caregivers.

The legislation would permanently authorize protections against impoverishment for individuals whose spouses are receiving Medicaid HCBS and make the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration permanent.

Under the terms of the legislation, states would become eligible for permanent increases to their Medicaid match funds of 10 percentage points, an expansion of the temporary boost provided in the American Rescue Plan. Eligibility could require states to expand HCBS access, help people utilize long-term care options, and provide additional support to family caregivers.

In addition, states would need “to promote recruitment and retention of direct care workers” by “regularly updating HCBS payment rates with public input.” The goal would be to increase compensation and training for workers to better attract and retain a stable direct care workforce.

Regular reporting by states would be required to demonstrate the legislative goals are being met. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would receive additional funding for oversight.

The legislation is sponsored by Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Ron Wyden of Oregon, as well as Debbie Dingell of Michigan; all Democrats and all long-time friends of the home care and hospice community.

Interestingly, the same day the Better Care Better Jobs bills were introduced, President Biden and a bipartisan group of legislators announced a compromise agreement to spend almost $580 billion in new money on the country’s creaky infrastructure. That agreement did not include any funding for long-term care, though President Biden originally called for $400 billion in new spending to be part of the country’s infrastructure investment. Republicans balked at that, saying infrastructure does not include long-term care investments.

With this legislation not included in the bipartisan infrastructure agreement and extremely unlikely to attract support from enough Republicans to pass the Senate, the terms of the Better Care Better Jobs Act could be made into law through the reconciliation process. Many Democrats have signaled determination to use reconciliation to pass elements of Biden’s infrastructure agenda that are not included in the bipartisan agreement reached on Thursday, June 24.

NAHC Supports the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act

Eleven Senators, including Bob Casey (D-PA), a close friend of NAHC and the home care community, have introduced the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act (S.1099) to permanently protect against spousal impoverishment in the Medicaid program.  Historically, when one part of a married couple was in need of Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS), their spouse has been…

NAHC to Congress: Support Home & Community Services in New COVID Relief

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has joined with other likeminded organizations to urgently ask Congress to consider the overlooked needs of the disabled and elderly when considering any upcoming COVID relief. None of the legislation that Congress has ultimately passed has included any dedicated funding  the for Home and Community-Based Services…

Federal Short-Term Spending Measure Contains Good News for Home Care & Hospice

On Wednesday September 30, the United States Senate approved a Continuing Resolution (CR), a short-term funding measure, averting a shutdown and providing government funding into December, and several provisions in the CR are helpful for home care and hospice. Key among these is relaxations on how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is to…

CMS Announces New Federal Funding to Support Transition from Nursing Homes to Community

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Wednesday, September 23, the availability of up to $165 million in supplemental funding to states currently operating Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration programs in 33 states. This funding will help state Medicaid programs jump-start efforts to transition individuals with disabilities and older adults from…

NAHC to Senate: More Support for Medicaid and Home-Based Services

The National Association for Home Care and Hospice have joined several other organizations in urging Senate leaders to protect and bolster access to care and delivery systems that disabled and older Americans rely on. With the aging and disability communities facing unique risks of COVID-19 infection, additional resources and supports are necessary for their protection.…

NAHC to Congress: Make Spousal Impoverishment Protection and Money Follows the Person Program Permanent

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has joined a group of like-minded organizations to urge leaders in both houses of Congress to pass the permanent extension of the Money Follows the Person Program (MFP) and Spousal Impoverishment Protections included in the bipartisan Drug Pricing Reduction and Health and Human Services Improvement Act…