Bill extends, expands “rebalancing” program that boosts quality of life and reduces costs for Medicaid patients needing long-term care

WASHINGTON, D.C.  –U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have introduced the Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources, and Care Act – or EMPOWER Care Act – to help Medicaid beneficiaries receive long-term services and support in their community or home and help save taxpayer dollars in the process. The bill would renew and expand the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration Program, which promotes community-based care and services and is as a sterling example of an initiative that improves patient outcomes while saving money for state and federal taxpayers.

The program extended in Portman and Cantwell’s legislation provides states with funding and flexibility to help Medicaid beneficiaries, particularly elderly and disabled individuals, transition from institutional to home and community-based long-term care settings.

I’m proud to continue my support for the Money Follows the Person program, by introducing the EMPOWER Care Act.  Money Follows the Person has provided over 10,000 Ohioans with the opportunity receive the care that they need in their homes and communities, and I will continue to fight to ensure that all Ohioans can continue to have a choice in where they seek long-term care support,” said Senator Portman.

Helping people access long-term care while staying in their own homes is a win-win: patients prefer it, and it saves money,” said Senator Cantwell. “The EMPOWER Care Act will build on Washington state’s leadership in promoting home-and community based care by giving states tools and resources to improve quality of life and reduce health care costs in their Medicaid programs.”

As of September 2016, 43 states and the District of Columbia have participated in the MFP Demonstration Program.  Between 2005 and 2013, the program has saved nearly $1 billion for Medicare and Medicaid and helped over 63,000 individuals receive care at home or in a community-based setting, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

People with disabilities and older adults simply want the same thing we all want - to live independently and age with dignity. However, far too many people end up in costly nursing homes when they could remain at home if they had access to community-based services,” said Joe Caldwell, National Council on Aging Director of Long-term Supports and Services. “The Money Follows the Person program is an integral support states need to help transition more individuals back home. It has improved the lives of over 75,000 individuals with disabilities and older adults and saved the federal government and states nearly a billion dollars. We applaud the bi-partisan leadership of Senators Portman and Cantwell to extend and improve the program.”

HOME Choice, Ohio’s iteration of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program, was one of the first MFP programs in the country.  According to the Ohio Department of Medicaid, it ranks first nationally in transitioning individuals with mental illness into home-based settings and second in overall transitions completed. Ohio continues to pave the way in long-term care delivery and an extension of the Money Follows the Person program will continue to allow for Ohio to continue to lead the way in optimizing care for those in need.

The Money Follows the Person program has been an outstanding success in transitioning older adults and people with disabilities out of nursing homes and back into their homes and communities. Through Money Follows the Person, Ohio has been able to further its commitment to rebalancing long term services and supports towards more home and community-based care. Providing the necessary supports upfront and during those critical first months not only saves money, but it also allows people to live where they prefer,” said Larke Recchie, CEO of Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Senator Portman continues to be a leader in ensuring that all Americans can receive long-term care in their homes and communities.  As a champion for programs like the Independence at Home model and the Money Follows the Person program, Senator Portman believes that outcomes and quality can be improved by delivering care in these settings in cost-effective manners.

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