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Thursday, March 10, 2011

New grants help state programs

Dee Mahan

Republicans are getting a lot of attention these days for trying to starve the Affordable Care Act of funding in order to derail implementation. Behind all the politics, what‘s not getting as much attention is all the good that the Affordable Care Act is doing right now, and how it’s helping Americans in all walks of life.

We were just reminded of that again last week when the Department of Health and Human Services announced more than $621 million in new grants to states through 2016 to help people living in nursing homes move back into the community.

Those grants are through a program called Money Follows the Person. Without the Affordable Care Act, Money Follows the Person was set to expire in 2011. The Affordable Care Act extends it through 2016 and provides added funds for more states to join the program. Last week’s announcement listed 13 new states that will receive more than $621 million between now and 2016. This is just one in a long list of programs in the Affordable Care Act that will give seniors and people with disabilities more choices of where they can live if they need long-term care.

Money Follows the Person helps low-income seniors and people with disabilities living in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, move back into their community.

Why is it so important? Well, many people in nursing homes may prefer to live at home or in a community setting, such as a group home or residential care facility. But they need some extra help to do so—they may no longer have a home to return to or the financial support to make the move. Money Follows the Person gives Medicaid-eligible people the opportunity to move back to the community. The program finds appropriate housing, pays initial costs for moving and basic household supplies, and provides support so that they can remain in the community. The benefits of this are two-fold: Better lives for people leaving nursing homes and because community-based care is less expensive, lower costs for state Medicaid programs.

The Affordable Care Act means more options for where and how people who need long-term services can get care—an issue that affects almost all of us, whether it’s your parents, grandparents, a sibling, or yourself who needs the care. In addition to Money Follows the Person, the Affordable Care Act includes new programs in Medicaid that will give states added federal money to expand services that help people who need long-term care stay in their communities. This includes money to develop programs to better manage the care of people with long-term chronic conditions so that they can stay healthy and out of nursing homes.

As the politics surrounding health reform continue to play in the headlines, the Affordable Care Act is giving more people choices about where and how to live their lives. You can help make sure this keeps happening.  Let your members of Congress know that you support the Affordable Care Act and full funding for its implementation.