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Dingell, Guthrie Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Seniors, Disabled Receive Care in their Homes

U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, introduced H.R. 5306, the bipartisan Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources (EMPOWER) and Care Act to help seniors and those with disabilities receive long-term services and supports in their homes and communities, while saving taxpayer dollars in the process. 

The legislation reauthorizes and expands the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration Program, a highly effective program first authorized in 2005, which provides a way for elderly and disabled patients to move from institutional care to home or community-based services.  

“Helping seniors and those with disabilities receive the care they need in the setting of their choice is something we can all agree on,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “The Money Follows the Person Program has provided people in Michigan and across the country the opportunity to transition from a nursing home back into their homes and communities, where they can live independently, age with dignity and be with their family and friends. I’m proud to introduce the EMPOWER Care Act with Congressman Guthrie to reauthorize and strengthen this important program and help improve quality of life for all those who need long-term support.”  

“The Money Follows the Person program is a proven success that has allowed Medicaid patients to take charge of their health care in a commonsense, cost-effective way,” said Congressman Guthrie. “Kentucky’s Money Follows the Person program, Kentucky Transitions, has helped hundreds of Kentuckians transition from health care facilities to receiving long-term care in their homes and communities. I was proud to introduce the EMPOWER Care Act with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to ensure that people with disabilities receive the best care possible.”

At the end of 2015, 43 states and the District of Columbia were participating in the MFP demonstration. As part of an evaluation provided to Congress in a 2017 report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded there is strong evidence beneficiaries’ quality of life improves when they transition from institutional to community-based long-term care system. The report also found that on average, monthly expenditures for beneficiaries participating in the demonstration program declined by 23 percent during the first year, saving Medicare and Medicaid $978 million.

Dingell and Guthrie’s legislation to continue and improve the program is supported by a large coalition of aging and disability organizations. 

“The Money Follows the Person Program is a crucial tool for states to fulfill the promise of Olmstead and support older adults and people with disabilities in community-based settings.  We are thrilled that the House has recognized the value of this program with a bipartisan reauthorization bill, and we encourage Congress to quickly pass this important legislation.” said Martha Roherty, Executive Director of the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities

"Time and money is running out for the thousands of people who have been able to leave nursing homes and choose the freedom to return to their own homes, with the support of the Money Follows the Person program," said Joe Caldwell, National Council on Aging Director of Long-term Supports and Services. "We are already losing the progress MFP made, as the 44 participating states shut down their programs for lack of funding. We appreciate bipartisan leadership of Reps. Dingell and Guthrie to extend and improve this common-sense program that improves lives and saves money, because we all agree, there's no place like home."

“The Money Follows the Person program has been a vital tool in helping states support people with developmental disabilities to live in the community. Since the program hasn’t been reauthorized, states are dismantling their MFP infrastructure, so we hope Congress will come together quickly to pass this legislation and make sure these valuable efforts can continue without disruption,” said Mary Lee Fay, Executive Director of the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS)

“This bill would extend a program that represents a win/win for states and individuals with disabilities. Individuals regain their independence and life in the community, while state and federal governments save money,” said Nicole Jorwic, Director of Rights Policy for The Arc of the United States. “The Arc is happy to see Congress taking action to support states to advance their efforts to keep individuals with disabilities in their communities where there are proven quality of life outcomes. This is a topic of great importance to the disability community and The Arc is grateful to Representatives Guthrie and Dingell for co-sponsoring this legislation. We are confident that if passed this bill will greatly assist states as they continue to rebalance service systems into the community and move us towards a more inclusive society.”

"There is no place like home. The Money Follows the Person Program has provided more than 75,000 individuals with disabilities freedom to return to their own homes and communities,” said Kim Musheno, Chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) the largest national coalition of disability organizations. “We applaud the bipartisan leadership of Representatives Dingell and Guthrie to extend this program.”

“Autism Speaks recognizes the critical importance of Medicaid-funded Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) to individuals with autism and their families,” said Angela Geiger, President and CEO Autism Speaks. “Reauthorizing the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program would benefit individuals across the country who are waiting for HCBS. We strongly support the EMPOWER Care Act and urge Congress to pass this important piece of legislation.”

"The Money Follows the Person is an essential and successful program that helps individuals move from institutions to community settings," said Dr. Larry Atkins, Executive Director of the National MLTSS Health Plan Association. "As key partners with states and providers, our member health plans can attest to the positive impact this program has had in the lives of the beneficiaries they serve and we commend the bipartisan effort to renew it."

For more information on the EMPOWER Care Act, please click here

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