Medicaid program managers are trying to turn their long-term care (LTC) benefits system upside down.
Officials in Washington and in the states are trying to help a higher percentage of Medicaid LTC benefits users get their care at home, or in some reasonably home-like setting rather than in a hospital or nursing home.
The effort could have wide-ranging, difficult-to-predict effects on many different aspects of long-term care planning, including what kinds of LTC arrangements are available — inside and outside “the home”; what kinds of LTC planning services consumers expect; and what holders of private long-term care insurance (LTCI) experience when their private LTCI benefits run out.
Regulators at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hope a new “home and community-based services” settings final rule will “maximize opportunities for individuals to have access to the benefits of community living and the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting,” according to Pat Nobbie, a policy specialist at the Administration for Community Living. She gave a presentation on the regulations in July at a conference organized by the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.
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Medicaid program managers have also prepared another, similar presentation explaining the regulations.
Here’s a look at what private LTC planners might want to know about the new Medicaid home and community-based services regulations and new, related “person-centered” LTC planning guidance.
1. The new Medicaid home and community-based service final rule is a little sister of the CLASS Act.
The drafters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) included one ultra-controversial LTC section — the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act. The CLASS Act was supposed to create a voluntary, premium-supported LTC benefits program. Anyone with a job — even employed people who were already severely disabled — could have signed up for the program. Actuaries at CMS blocked implementation of the CLASS Act program, saying they knew of no practical way to make the program financially viable.
Congress eventually repealed the CLASS Act provision, but other, lesser-known PPACA LTC provisions survived.
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States’ Medicaid programs pay the nursing home bills for about 60 percent of U.S. nursing home residents.
One part of PPACA, PPACA Section 2601, is supposed to encourage states to spend more for their LTC money on various types of home care and community-based care, such as adult day care services, and less on nursing home care. The section affects how federal and state Medicaid program officials run home and community-based services programs under several parts of Section 1915 of the Social Security Act.
CMS published the final rule implementing PPACA Section 2601 in January, after publishing several batches of draft regulations and reviewing 2,000 public comments.