Older Michiganders and AARP Michigan captured an important advocacy victory on May 31 when the House and Senate passed a budget that includes a 16 percent increase for long-term care alternatives.
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The approved Department of Community Health budget calls for an increase in funding for Michigan’s Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) known as MIChoice, of $36.4 million for the new budget year that begins Oct. 1.
Gov. Rick Snyder supported the funding increase and is expected to sign the budget bill.
The budget boost will provide an additional $11.8 million to reduce the waiting list for MIChoice waivers for HCBS, which has been a long-time goal of AARP and other aging and disability advocates.
Also, the budget allocates $24.6 million for nursing facility transitions. This program gives nursing facility residents the opportunity to move to more independent living arrangements, such as returning to their own home, moving in with family members, finding an apartment, or choosing another option.
Increasing funding for Home and Community-Based Services as an alternative to nursing home care was a top priority on AARP Michigan’s legislative agenda this year.
“We believe AARP has been instrumental in Michigan over the past several months in re-directing the debate regarding long term care in Michigan,” said Lisa Dedden Cooper, Advocacy Manager for AARP Michigan. “We were concerned that the policy debate in Michigan regarding long-term care was beginning to be viewed more from a nursing home perspective, rather than a consumer perspective.”
AARP Michigan in early April released a white paper on long term care indicating that the state could upgrade care, give consumers options they preferred and save taxpayers millions of dollars at the same time.
The report, which was shared with elected officials and other policy makers, showed 35 other states spent a larger share of their Medicaid dollars on HCBS than Michigan does.
On average, AARP Michigan reported, Medicaid dollars can support nearly three older people and adults with physical disabilities in HCBS for every one person in a nursing home.
“We are hopeful that we have turned a corner in Michigan regarding HCBS,” Cooper said. She added that AARP intends to continue pushing the state to pursue federal funding that will pick up some of the costs for the shift to Home and Community-Based Services.
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