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Home and Community-Based Services Expansion Begins

More Mississippians soon will have access to more Home and Community-Based Services as the Mississippi Division of Medicaid begins to comply with a new law. The Mississippi state legislature passed House Bill 1627 earlier this year.

Medicaid has filled 100 Assisted Living Waivers slots. Now, Medicaid is expanding Elderly and Disabled Waivers by 1,000 slots. To support the expansion, Planning Development Districts are hiring personnel to handle case management requirements.

“An AARP survey found that 89 percent of respondents would like to age with dignity at home if given the option,” said AARP Mississippi State President Bruce W. Brice, Sr. “The new state law is a major step in expanding and funding Home and Community-Based Services in Mississippi.”

During this year’s state legislative session, AARP Mississippi volunteers asked their legislators to support HB 1627. As a result, an additional $5 million was directed to Home and Community-Based Services waiver slots. Waiver slots designate a specific type of Home and Community-Based Service. Two waiver slots – Assisted Living and Elderly and Disabled – received $3 million. Two other waiver slots – Home Delivered Meals and Independent Living – received $1 million each.

“AARP Mississippi is pleased to see that the Mississippi Division of Medicaid is moving forward with the provisions of the new law and expanding Home and Community-Based Services,” said AARP Mississippi Senior State Director Sherri Davis-Garner. “This law allows more Mississippians to age at home with dignify, as well as save taxpayer dollars.”

It costs $68,000 to keep a person in a nursing home, while it only costs $18,000 to provide Home and Community-Based Services for a person in his or her own home, according to a 2009 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs.

The law also states that the Mississippi Division of Medicaid must submit a plan with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to implement a program that meets the national standards for the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

Last year, AARP Mississippi mobilized a team of grassroots volunteers throughout the state to educate their legislators about the benefits of funding Home and Community-Based Services Elderly and Disabled Waiver slots. Grassroots volunteers visited the State Capitol weekly during the 2010 legislative session. During these visits, volunteers talked to their respective legislators about how funding Home and Community-Based Services Elderly and Disabled waiver slots would help Mississippians and save taxpayer money.

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