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HHS urges expansion of non-nursing home care for disabled. (Recent Health Care Development).

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson recently urged U.S. governors to make continued efforts to overcome the institutional bias in Medicaid Programs by providing benefits outside of nursing homes to Americans with disabilities. Secretary Thompson noted that States already have many affordable community-based options for serving people with disabilities, and he pointed to a new Web site identifying promising practices.

"The President's New Freedom Initiative builds on our partnership to assure Medicaid-eligible individuals with disabilities are served in the most appropriate setting according to their own needs and preferences," said Secretary Thompson in a letter to the governors. "We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to serve people who meet nursing facility levels of care in their own homes or other community residential settings without increasing costs."

A number of States have already developed and implemented programs that serve individuals in community settings rather than institutions. These include:

* Diversion programs to keep people in the community.

* Transition programs to move individuals from institutional settings to community placements.

* Program models in which the "money follows the person" to assure stability for beneficiaries living in the community.

HHS recently announced a new waiver template, "Independence Plus," designed to help States develop consumer-directed services. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has also established a Web site to help States share "promising practices" of innovative programs that States have adopted to strengthen their community long-term support systems. These promising practices are targeted towards diverse populations and usually supported by a combination of funding mechanisms, such as the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver Program, regular Medicaid State plan options, programs funded by other Federal agencies, and State and local resources. The Web site is promisingpractices.

Under the President's New Freedom Initiative, many other steps have also been taken, including $120 million in Systems Change Grants to support State efforts to institute community-based approaches; the Ticket to Work Program, which provides for continued health insurance coverage for persons with disabilities; and the National Caregiver Support Programs aimed at helping families care for a loved one at home or in the community.
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Title Annotation:Department of Health and Human Services
Publication:Health Care Financing Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2002
Previous Article:Comparison of Medicare risk HMO and FFS enrollees. (MCBS Highlights).
Next Article:HHS issues first major protections for patient privacy. (Recent Health Care Developments).

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