Show Us the Money

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)

Money Follows the Person ProgramAre you aware of Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person program? If not, you should be.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia participate in the program, which helps states rebalance their long-term care systems. The Affordable Care Act extended the program through 2016, appropriated an additional $2.25 billion in funding and expanded eligibility.

When it launched in 2007, eligibility was limited to those age 65 or older. Today, the Money Follows the Person program helps patients of any age who have been in a nursing home for 90 days or more and could be cared for in a less-expensive setting, giving states funding to pay for housing, furniture, security deposits and handicapped-related renovations.

The program goals include:

  • Eliminating barriers in state law, state Medicaid plans and state budgets that restrict the use of Medicaid funds in non-nursing home settings
  • Increasing the use of home and community-based services and reducing the use of institutionally based services
  • Strengthening the ability of Medicaid programs to provide home and community-based services to people who would like to transition out of institutions.

Kaiser Health News has reported that some states, such as Ohio and Texas, have been successful with the program (moving thousands out of nursing homes) while others have struggled, including Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina. One problem was the age restriction in the initial program—many nursing home residents are adults under 65 with physical disabilities.

The complexity of resettling patients who have gotten used to life in a nursing home is another reason for the slow start. Housing, transportation, social services and sometimes mental health services all must be coordinated.

Home care agencies are well-suited to work with other community providers to contribute their expertise in helping people age in place. Check with your local, regional and state associations to find out whether  Money Follows the Person is active in your area and how your agency can help.

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