State awarded grant to help elderly, disabled stay independent
by Daniel Gaddy
Oct 27, 2012 | 1414 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State officials recently announced that Alabama was awarded a grant that will help 625 elderly or disabled residents live independently in their homes and communities.

Alabama will join 43 states participating in the Money Follows the Person Grant Demonstration Project, which is funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The program is designed to help states transition more elderly and disabled patients from long-term care facilities to home and community-based services.

State leaders will use the MFP funds to expand services in communities, allowing more Medicaid and Medicare patients to live independently.

“There is significant interest in increasing the number of options offered to Medicaid recipients who would like to live in the community and be more independent,” said Ginger Wettingfeld, deputy director of Medicaid’s Long Term Care Division and manager of the grant project, in a press release. “This initiative not only will provide Alabama with the means to continue in a direction that offers greater choice to our recipients, it also will help us maximize Medicaid’s limited funds.”

According to the press release, the savings associated with transitioning 625 patients will be more than $11 million.

Alabama will receive $3.4 million in the first year of the grant, and will be eligible for up to $28 million over the four-year project.

Wettingfeld said the project will not require new costs to the state, but will rather transfer funds from institutional to community-based programs.

State Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper) said the program could not only benefit patients living in an institutional setting but also provide more independence for disabled people already living in their communities.

Reed, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, said that during a presentation about the MFP program, he was given an example of someone who uses a wheelchair. Though that person may not need long-term care, it may not be feasible for him or her to get ready for work. However, funds from programs like Money Follows the Person could pay for assistance so that person could have a job and live independently.

In addition to supporting nursing home residents who wish to transition to the community, the Alabama Department of Mental Health is planning to work with Alabama’s Medicaid Agency to develop and operate a second transition program. This waiver would enable Medicaid recipients who have a developmental disability or a mental illness-related diagnosis to have the opportunity to move to the community, too.