Source: US State of Pennsylvania
September 11, 2019
Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration announced today that it has received $20 million in federal funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to continue the Money Follows the Person (MFP) grant. MFP incentivizes states to focus on transitioning individuals out of long-term care facilities to be served in their communities in a residence of their choice.
“I and my administration firmly believe that all Pennsylvanians should have the opportunity to live in the community among family and friends and still receive services necessary to live a healthy, independent, and productive life,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “The Money Follows the Person grant allows Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) to help thousands of Pennsylvanians live fulfilling, everyday lives in their communities.”
Pennsylvania has participated in MFP since 2008, and awarded funding is used primarily to expand home and community-based services, which allow people with long-term care needs to live in their own home in the community closer to family and friends and provides more opportunities for recreation, work, and independence.
Since 2008, MFP has helped Pennsylvania transition more than 4,000 individuals from nursing homes, private intermediate care facilities, and state centers to the community. DHS has used MFP funding to strategically invest in initiatives focused on housing, services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism, and quality of care and opportunities for those served in the community.
“The Money Follows the Person grant money makes the work the department does every day possible,” DHS Sec. Teresa Miller said. “We are grateful for the federal government’s continued support toward this important work.”
Projects that will be supported through this funding cycle include:
• Partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging on expanding the Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (SHARE) housing pilot: First launched in 2016, SHARE helps match senior homeowners and home seekers to increase opportunities for affordable housing options for seniors and seniors with disabilities. SHARE was first launched in Pike, Monroe, and Wayne Counties and now will be expanded to nine other counties.
• Supporting community-based housing opportunities for veterans experiencing homelessness or living in restrictive settings through the Fairweather Lodge Program: The Fairweather Lodge program is helping veterans who were homeless or in a restrictive setting and have been diagnosed with mental illness to integrate into the community by providing a place to live, employment, peer support, and skill building.
• Strengthening and simplifying service delivery for people with intellectual disabilities and autism: DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs will work with stakeholders and key partners to reimagine operational processes so individuals with an intellectual disability or autism and their family may better coordinate services and receive more support in service planning and managing services received.
• Building capacity to support clients with co-occurring health needs: In 2016, DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs and Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services launched an initiative to better support individuals with intellectual disabilities and co-occurring behavioral health needs outside of institutional settings. More than 50 professionals in the intellectual disability/autism and mental health fields are convened annually to identify system issues and be trained in clinical best practices. This effort has also produced a conference series to further educate providers on needs of individuals with dual diagnoses and an online curriculum to help Pennsylvanians with dual diagnoses.
• Supporting Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities: There are individuals with disabilities who live in a community-based setting who would like to obtain competitive integrated employment. However, they may not be aware of opportunities and support available to gain employment or may fear losing access to needed services. DHS will partner with advocates on a campaign to educate people on how they and can obtain or maintain employment and maintain current services.
• Promoting Safe and High-Quality Services in the Community: DHS will strengthen mortality review processes for people who die while receiving services in their community through a waiver program to collect data and analyze risk factors to identify suspicious and avoidable deaths. This will help identify safety issues and improve outcomes for those to live in the community.
The funding will also continue to support the implementation of Community HealthChoices (CHC). First launched in January 2018, CHC is a managed long-term services and supports program for older Pennsylvanians who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid or adults over age 21 who require services and supports through Medicaid for a physical disability. In its first year of implementation, CHC helped reduce the number of enrollees living in nursing home settings and supported moves into more independent community placements. Once fully implemented in January 2020, CHC will cover more than 450,000 Pennsylvanians.
Federal funding for MFP is set to expire in September 2020. The United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 3253 in June 2019, which would extend the MFP program through September 2024. Secretary Miller has voiced her support to extend this important funding that allows Pennsylvania to support high-quality services in the community for more Pennsylvanians.