Action Alert! The EMPOWER Care Act Gets Individuals with Disabilities & Seniors Back Home
January 30, 2018
S. 2227, the bipartisan EMPOWER Care Act introduced by Senators Portman (R-OH) and Cantwell (D-WA), extends and improves the Money Follows the Person program (MFP). First authorized by President Bush in 2005 with strong bipartisan support, MFP gets individuals with disabilities and seniors out of nursing homes and back into their communities with family and friends.
By passing the EMPOWER Care Act and funding the Money Follows the Person program, Congress can help more people with disabilities transition out of institutions and nursing homes and into the homes and communities of their choice.
February 1, 2018
Join disability advocates around the country this Thursday, February 1, for a National Call-In Day for Community Living. Urge your Senators to Co-Sponsor the EMPOWER Care Act to extend the Money Follows the Person program immediately.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Senators.
Visit the National Call-In Day for Community Living: #FundMFP webpage hosted by the Center for Public Representation for a guide to using the Capitol Switchboard, a call script, and additional talking points. Join the Facebook Event to get the latest updates.
Social Media Day to #FundMFP
February 2, 2018
Join disability advocates around the country this Friday, February 2, for a Social Media Day to #FundMFP. Urge your Senators to Co-Sponsor the EMPOWER Care Act to extend the Money Follows the Person program immediately.
- Sample social media posts
- Twitter handles of US Senators
- Facebook Event
- Be sure to use #FundMFP when you post
- Sign-On Letter – Center for Disability Rights and ADAPT (you can also track Congressional outreach through the sign-on letter)
- Email your Member of Congress – National Council on Aging
MFP Enhances Opportunities to Live Independently and Age with Dignity
Medicaid requires states to provide care in nursing homes, but makes home and community-based services (HCBS) optional. MFP better re-balances Medicaid by providing grants to states to cover transitional services for individuals who wish to leave nursing homes or other institutions. Thanks to MFP, over 75,000 individuals with chronic conditions and disabilities and seniors have been able to transition from institutions back into the community since 2015.
MFP Rebalancing Demonstration is a Success Story – Improves Quality of Life
At the end of 2015, more than 43 states and the District of Columbia were participating in the MFP demonstration. As part of an evaluation provided to Congress in a 2017 report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concluded that there is strong evidence beneficiaries’ quality of life improves when they transition from institutional to community-based long-term services and supports (LTSS). MFP participants experienced increases across all seven quality-of-life domains measured, and the improvements were largely sustained after two years.
States Save with Money Follows the Person
Providing LTSS in the home is more cost effective than institutional care because, among other reasons, it eliminates the need for Medicaid to cover the cost of room and board in a nursing home. On average, per-beneficiary per-month expenditures for those participating in the re-balancing demonstration declined by $1,840 (23 percent) during the first year of transition from a nursing home to home and community-based LTSS, saving $978 million. CMS also found that MFP participants are less likely to be readmitted to institutional care than other beneficiaries who transition but do not participate in the program.
The Time is Now: Money Follows the Person Expired in September 2016
Unfortunately, the MFP program expired over a year ago. States can continue to use their remaining grant funding through 2020, but that is not enough to maintain the program at current levels, and certainly will not allow states to expand the number of participants. Overall, states have had to scale back plans submitted to CMS by approximately 40%. This means fewer individuals will be able to transition out of institutional settings into the care setting of their choice. The EMPOWER Care Act solves that problem by reauthorizing the program through 2022.
The EMPOWER Care Act Makes Improvements to the Program
S. 2227, the EMPOWER Care Act, improves the MFP program by reducing the number of days someone must be in a nursing home before becoming eligible to transition from 90 to 60 (evidence shows that the longer someone remains in a nursing home, the harder it can be to transition out). The legislation also enhances the reporting and accountability of MFP funding and requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a best practices evaluation that covers the most effective state strategies for transitioning beneficiaries from institutional to qualified community settings and how such strategies may vary for different types of beneficiaries.
Conclusion: Ask your Members of Congress to Sponsor the EMPOWER Care Act Today!
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This action alert was developed with content provided by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD).