The law creates the Community First Choice Option in Medicaid, which provides incentives for states to offer personal care attendants and other help at home for people with disabilities who would otherwise have to live in an institution. The services should be available late next year or in 2012.
The reform law also helps people living in institutions come home. It expands the Money Follows the Person pilot project—an experimental program that has successfully moved 6,000 disabled and older people out of institutions. It also changed the rules: Instead of requiring participants in the program to reside in an institution for at least six months before leaving, they can leave after a 90-day stay. The 20 state Medicaid agencies that don’t yet offer the program will be able to get funding to start one, said Ron Hendler, a program director at the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Susan Jaffe of Washington, D.C., covers health and aging issues and writes the Bulletin’s weekly column, Health Care Reform Explained: Your Questions Answered.