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Action Alert: Support the EMPOWER Care Act and Community Living!

By Long Island Center. Filed in Access, Advocacy, Disability, Disability Rights, Healthcare, In the Loop, Politics  |   
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Join the June 22 National Call-In Day!

Money Follows the Person (MFP) is a Medicaid program that has helped over 75,000 people with disabilities and seniors move out of nursing homes or institutions and back into their communities. MFP restores the dignity and liberty of people with disabilities by promoting and supporting choice and community living.

Funding for the MFP program expired in 2016, and states have already scaled back their plans by approximately 40%. We need your help and advocacy to get the Senate and House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan EMPOWER Care Act (S.2227 and H.R.5306), which would extend and improve the MFP program. Last year was the first time that the number of people that transitioned to the community had declined.

By passing the EMPOWER Care Act and funding the Money Follows the Person program, Congress can help more people with disabilities transition out of institutions and nursing homes and back into the community. Without action NOW, more people will be trapped in institutions.

Help people living in nursing facilities and other institutional settings move back into their communities!

National Call-In Day to Celebrate Olmstead Anniversary
June 22, 2018

June 22 marks the 19th anniversary of the Olmstead decision, which recognized the right of people with disabilities to live, work, and participate in their communities. Join disability advocates around the country on this day for a National Call-In Day to support community living and urge your Senators and Representative to co-sponsor the EMPOWER Care Act to extend the Money Follows the Person program and help make Olmstead a reality!

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representative.

Visit the National Call-In Day to Celebrate Olmstead Anniversary web page hosted by the Center for Public Representation for a guide to using the Capitol Switchboard, a call script, and additional talking points. Join the Facebook Event to get the latest updates.

Social Media

Use hashtag #FundMFP in your posts and tag your Members of Congress (Senate Twitter Handles | House Twitter Handles)

Background

MFP Enhances Opportunities to Live Independently and Age with Dignity

Medicaid requires states to provide care in nursing homes, but makes home- and community-based services (HCBS) optional. MFP better re-balances Medicaid by providing grants to states to cover transitional services for individuals who wish to leave nursing homes or other institutions. Thanks to MFP, over 75,000 individuals with chronic conditions and disabilities and seniors have been able to transition from institutions back into the community since 2015.

MFP Rebalancing Demonstration is a Success Story – Improves Quality of Life

At the end of 2015, more than 43 states and the District of Columbia were participating in the MFP demonstration. As part of an evaluation provided to Congress in a 2017 report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concluded that there is strong evidence beneficiaries’ quality of life improves when they transition from institutional to community-based long-term services and supports (LTSS). MFP participants experienced increases across all seven quality-of-life domains measured, and the improvements were largely sustained after two years.

States Save with Money Follows the Person

Providing LTSS in the home is more cost effective than institutional care because, among other reasons, it eliminates the need for Medicaid to cover the cost of room and board in a nursing home. On average, per-beneficiary per-month expenditures for those participating in the re-balancing demonstration declined by $1,840 (23 percent) during the first year of transition from a nursing home to home and community-based LTSS. CMS also found that MFP participants are less likely to be readmitted to institutional care than other beneficiaries who transition but do not participate in the program.

The Time is Now: Money Follows the Person Expired in September 2016

Unfortunately, the MFP program expired over a year ago. States can continue to use their remaining grant funding through 2020, but that is not enough to maintain the program at current levels, and certainly will not allow states to expand the number of participants. Overall, states have had to scale back plans submitted to CMS by approximately 40%. This means fewer individuals will be able to transition out of institutional settings into the care setting of their choice. The EMPOWER Care Act solves that problem by reauthorizing the program through 2022.

The EMPOWER Care Act Makes Improvements to the Program

The EMPOWER Care Act improves the MFP program by reducing the number of days someone must be in a nursing home before becoming eligible to transition from 90 days to 60 days (evidence shows that the longer someone remains in a nursing home, the harder it can be to transition out). The legislation also enhances the reporting and accountability of MFP funding and requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a best practices evaluation that covers the most effective state strategies for transitioning beneficiaries from institutional to qualified community settings and how such strategies may vary for different types of beneficiaries.

Ask your Members of Congress to Co-Sponsor the EMPOWER Care Act Today!

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