February 8, 2018
The “Money Follows the Person” program is a Medicaid Waiver Program that over forty states participate in. Not all Medicaid Waiver programs are successful in their aims, but this one has been. It has both improved quality of life and at the same time has proven to save money. A lot of money.
Most of us understand that Medicaid has an “institutional bias.” By this we mean that if you are in need of nursing-home level of care, then Medicaid (if you qualify financially) covers all your basic needs – if you are a nursing home resident. But not if you live at home or in some other non-nursing home setting. But some people, with sufficient supports not available through conventional Community Medicaid, are able to live, and even be productive, outside the nursing home.
Money Follows the Person won’t keep those people from entering a nursing home, but it can get them out. If a person has been in the nursing home for 90 days or more, and has qualified for nursing-home Medicaid, they can apply for Money Follows the Person and if approved, can return to the community with the supports they need to be successful.
Our law firm has used this program with great success. It is particularly of value to individuals who are not extremely aged. In our best success story, we partnered with our local Independent Living Center to return to the community a professional man in his forties who had suffered some serious setbacks from a genetic disorder. He is now pursuing a graduate degree and a new career. Without Money Follows the Person, he would be in a nursing home to this day.
Money Follows the Person only has a certain amount of slots available, so just because a person qualifies, does not mean they will be able to use the program. You can find out more about the Massachusetts Money Follows the Person program here. The Massachusetts Regulations for Money Follows the Person are here at 130 CMR §519.007(H)(1) and (2).
Unfortunately, Congress let funding for Money Follows the Person expire in September 2016. States can continue with unused funds until 2020, but they are doing so at reduced levels.
The bipartisan Empower Care Act (S. 2227) extends Money Follows the Person to Year 2022. In addition, individuals would only need to have been in a nursing home for 60 days instead of 90 days to qualify. Although at least for the time being, Massachusetts is committed to the Money Follows the Person program even in the absence of federal funding, it is much more likely that Massachusetts will be able to continue the program if federal funding were resumed.
You can easily support the Empower Care Act by messaging your Senator here at the National Council on Aging website. The deadline is 5 PM today, February 8, 2018!