Federal Program Tries to Help Nursing Home Residents in Maryland and Washington DC Return to Their Communities

A federal program intended to help transition nursing home residents who receive Medicaid into community- and home-based care has had some success in Maryland, but people in many states have experienced difficulties with relocation. The Money Follows the Person (MFP) program, initiated in early 2008, is intended to help individuals who might benefit from home-based services to get out of long-term care institutions. It could potentially help ease the burden on overcrowded or understaffed long-term care facilities, thereby improving care for all residents.

The primary goal of MFP, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is to help state governments “rebalance their long-term care systems” to favor home- and community-based services (HCBS) over institutional services. HCBS may include small group homes, private homes, or apartments with some degree of living assistance. The program is also intended to expand the use of Medicaid funds to allow patients greater choice in long-term care services, and to provide oversight and quality control over HCBS that receive Medicaid funds. Forty-three states, including Maryland and Virginia, and the District of Columbia have signed on to the program. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 extended the program from its initial five-year period until 2016, appropriated additional funding, and expanded the eligibility criteria for patients.

Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is responsible for implementing MFP programs in this state. The services it provides include peer mentoring, information technology support, assistance with finding housing, and funding to facilitate patients’ transition from nursing homes to HCBS. DHMH has set up a statewide transition center to provide support and assistance to nursing home residents who want to transition to HCBS. According to a report in the Washington Post, Maryland set a goal of moving 2,413 people into HCBS within five years, beginning in 2008, and as of late October had met fifty-five percent of its goal.

The program has reportedly had less success in Washington DC. The Post report states that the District set a five-year goal of moving 1,110 people into HCBS, but by early July 2012 had only met eleven percent of its goal. Nationwide, states have set a five-year goal of moving 35,380 people. So far, approximately 22,500 people have successfully transitioned to HCBS from institutional facilities, a completion rate of about sixty-four percent. Not every state has strong systems in place for home- and community-based care, and state officials have reportedly had difficulties with various aspects of the transition.

Despite various setbacks, the program still shows promise of helping move certain patients, who might not need the degree of care and attention commonly associated with nursing homes, to facilities that will better serve them. This will also hopefully save money for the Medicaid system and the patients, and free up nursing home staff to devote their time and attention to the patients who most need their care.

At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we help people in Maryland obtain compensation for injuries caused by nursing home abuse or neglect. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949.

More Blog Posts:

New Methods Available to Help Nursing Home Staff Track Life-Threatening Infections, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, October 17, 2012
Study Shows Higher Mortality Among Elderly Female Nursing Home Residents with Vitamin D Deficiencies, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, March 21, 2012
Residents’ Rights under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, November 30, 2010

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