Many states have fallen abysmally short of initial estimates for a $4 billion federal program called Money Follows the Person, which awards grants seeking to relocate those living in nursing homes into less institutional settings, says the Washington Post.
Five years into the program, about 22,500 people nationwide have left institutional settings and transitioned back into community settings. The states’ goal had been 35,380—a target that federal officials now say was unrealistic.
The Washington Post reports:
Money Follows the Person covers the elderly, adults with physical disabilities, the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill. Participants must choose to return to the community and be enrolled in Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor and disabled. Transition coordinators assist them with moving into apartments, houses, small group homes or, in some cases, assisted living facilities.
…“We’re in Year 5 of a five-year Money Follows the Person grant, and they’ve barely transitioned anyone from a nursing home,” said Marjorie Rifkin, managing attorney for University Legal Services, a nonprofit advocacy group. “The District made no effort to market the program. People in nursing homes don’t know the services exist, and to a large degree the staff don’t know, either.”
Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which administers the program, concede that it got off to a slow start. They say that many states had to create community- and home-based care systems from scratch. Some ran up against a shortage of home health workers, which many participants need. Some did not anticipate the bureaucratic challenges, such as negotiating contracts with local nonprofits to help with transitions.
“Housing is the top challenge we face,” said Nichole Martin, long-term care program manager at Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services. “When we started out, we didn’t know how much of a challenge it would be.”
In Maryland, 87% of Money Follows the Person participants have come from nursing homes.
Written by Jason Oliva