Money Follows the Person (MFP) Bills in the 116th Congress (beginning Jan. 2019)
As of the end of 2018, states had exhausted their allotted Medicaid Money Follows the Person (MFP) funding, and reauthorization of MFP is a priority for the disability and aging communities. Thanks to your hard work, on January 17, 2019, Congress passed the Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019, a bill that includes short-term funding for the Money Follows the Person program. The bill includes three months of funding for MFP that states have until September 31, 2019 to spend. The bill also included an extension of the spousal impoverishment protections for people receiving home and community based services to March 31, 2019. While this is only a short-term extension, it will give us momentum as we work with members of Congress for a longer extension of these critical programs.
Unfortunately, efforts for a longer-term re-authorization of MFP were not successful in the last Congress. These bills included the Empower Care Act (S. 2227 in the Senate, H.R. 5306 in the House), which would have funded the program for five years.
MFP Funding to Help People Make This Transition Has Run Out
First authorized by President Bush in 2005 with strong bipartisan support, MFP gets individuals with disabilities and seniors – if they wish – out of nursing homes and back into their communities. MFP has assisted more than 88,000 individuals voluntarily move into a setting of their choice, and has helped 44 states improve access to community-based long-term care, also known as “home and community-based services” (HCBS). Unfortunately, the MFP program expired in 2016. All States will use their remaining grant funding by the end of this year. States have already had to scale back their programs by approximately 40%. Without additional funding, every state will stop transitioning new individuals this year. This will put a stop to the momentum we have achieved in helping individuals voluntarily transition from institutions back into the community care setting of their choice. We must act now to extend this important program before funding runs out entirely and the programs that thoughtfully transitioned individuals back to the community are completely dismantled.
MFP Enhances Opportunities to Live Independently and Age with Dignity
Medicaid requires states to provide care in nursing homes, but HCBS is optional. MFP incentivizes investment in HCBS by providing federal funding for transitional services for individuals who wish to leave a nursing home or other institution. Thanks to MFP, over 88,000 seniors and people with chronic conditions and disabilities have voluntarily transitioned back into their communities.
MFP Rebalancing Demonstration is a Success Story that Improves Quality of Life and Care
In a 2017 evaluation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found strong evidence that beneficiaries’ quality of life and care improves when they transition from institutional long-term care to HCBS. 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 long-term care in the home costs less than institutional care. Average monthly expenses for MFP participants declined by almost 25 percent in the first year after transitioning from a nursing home to HCBS. CMS also found that MFP participants are less likely to be readmitted to institutional care than other beneficiaries who transitioned but did not participate in the program.
What You Can Do
Urge your Members of Congress to extend the Money Follows the Person Program.
CCD MFP letter to the House (Dec. 10, 2018)
CCD MFP Letter to the Senate (Dec. 7, 2018)
EMPOWER Care Act One Pager (Sept. 2018)
EMPOWER Care Act one pager(Feb. 2018)