Citing ‘Over-Reliance’ on Nursing Homes, CMS Releases $165M for Community Transition Programs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday announced $165 million in supplemental funding to states currently operating Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration programs, specifically citing COVID-19 as a key reason to encourage the movement of individuals from the nursing home setting into community resources.

“The tragic devastation wrought by the coronavirus on nursing home residents exposes America’s over-reliance on institutional long-term care facilities,” CMS administrator Seema Verma said in a press release announcing the funding. “Residential care will always be an essential part of the care continuum, but our goal must always be to give residents options that help keep our loved ones in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.”

Since the beginning of the program in 2007, MFP state grantees have transitioned 101,540 Medicaid beneficiaries from institutional care to home- and and community-based services, the release said, citing a report from the agency also released Wednesday.

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But in 2018, just 4,173 Medicaid beneficiaries were transitioned under the MFP program, a drop of 46% from 2018, CMS noted.

There are 33 states, including the District of Columbia, that operate MFP-supported transition programs, and each is eligible to receive up to $5 million in supplemental funding “to accelerate long-term care system transformation design and implementation, and to expand HCBS [home and community-based services] capacity,” CMS announced..

Some of the ways the funds could be used might include:

  • Assessing current HCBS capacity to see what additional providers and services are needed
  • Evaluating institutional capacity and ways the state could reduce it and move individuals to more integrated settings
  • Recruitment, training, education, and technical assistance for providers and direct service workers
  • Caregiver training and education
  • Assessing and implementing changes to reimbursement rates and methods to expand HCBS capacity or improve it, or to improve the quality of institutional services

States could also use the funding to support such activities in direct response to COVID-19, such as planning and implementing telehealth use for nursing facility transition activities that would typically be conducted in person, the release noted.

Supplemental budget requests will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 30, 2021; all eligible grantee states currently operating an MFP-funded transition program will receive additional information from CMS.

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