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Congress likely to extend deinstitutionalization program

It is well-known that people with disabilities or impairments associated with old age tend to do better in noninstitutional settings in their communities than they might in nursing homes or similar institutional models. Colorado participates in a federal Medicaid-funded program called Money Follows the Person, known as MFP, that provides funding for moving elderly or disabled people out of institutions and into community-based residential settings.

A Mathematica Policy Research Report evaluates how states are using their MFP funding and contains interesting Colorado data:

  • Through the end of 2016, Colorado had transitioned 214 people from institutional settings into community settings: older adults (17), people with physical disabilities (75), people with intellectual disabilities (44), people with mental illness (32) and people with other conditions (46).
  • In the first half of 2016, Colorado residents transitioned using MFP funding into homes (four), apartments (27) and group homes (two).

Federal bill would extend program

Currently, MFP is only funded through September 2019. The Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 (H.R. 3253) is pending in Congress and would extend the program and appropriate funding through fiscal year 2024.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., is sponsoring the bill, which has bipartisan support. She says the MFP program helps vulnerable people “transition to and live in the community with their families and friends, while keeping them safe from abuse and neglect,” according to the Concord Monitor. (The bill also extends other programs.)

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3253 on June 18 by a vote of 371 to 46 and sent it to the U.S. Senate for consideration. On July 25, the Senate released a message that it had passed the bill with a financial amendment to the MFP provisions (among others) and requesting that the House review the amendments and concur.

Advocates for disabled and elderly Coloradans will watch the progress of this important piece of legislation with concern as the MFP expiration date approaches.

 

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