House Lawmakers Pass Short-Term Money Follows the Person Extension

A program that allows Medicaid users — including seniors — to seamlessly transition back home after a nursing home or institutional care stay could receive a short-term $20 million funding boost.

The House recently passed the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act, which provides an extra $20 million in funding for the Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration for fiscal year 2019. The Senate is expected to take up the bipartisan bill soon.

This comes after Congress originally budgeted $112 million for the program in January.

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The MFP demonstration began in 2007 and was funded by the Affordable Care Act through 2016. The goal of the program is to increase the use of home- and community-based services, while allowing people to have greater control over where they receive long-term care.

More than 88,000 individuals have used the MFP program to receive care in their own homes since its creation more than a decade ago, according to federal estimates.

Since 2016, legislators have made several attempts to reauthorize the program or lock in more permanent funding. Most recently, Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) introduced the Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources (EMPOWER) Care Act.

If passed, the EMPOWER Care Act would reauthorize the federal MFP demonstration for five years. Meanwhile, if the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act passes, it would fully fund the MFP program through September 2019.

LeadingAge, the Partnership for Medicaid Home-Based Care and the National Council on Aging are among the organizations that have voiced support for the EMPOWER CARE Act and solidfying funding for the MFP demo.

The Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act would also extend the spousal impoverishment protections for people receiving home- and community-based services through September.

The protections prevent unnecessary financial harm in instances where one spouse needs long-term care in a nursing home or institutional care facility.

Guthrie — along with Reps. Paul Tonko (D-New York), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) — also recently introduced an Alzheimer’s bill, Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act (H.R. 1873).

If passed, it would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to inform health care providers about Medicare care planning benefits.