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House Passes Bipartisan Long-Term Healthcare Bills Led by Dingell, Upton, Guthrie

Washington, June 19, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) that makes it easier for seniors and the disabled to receive care in their preferred setting without facing bankruptcy or significant financial hardship. Congressmen Fred Upton (R-MI) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) let similar bills with Dingell to strengthen long-term care and aging policies.

The Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 extends critical programs within Medicaid for 4.5 years including the Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration program and extends spousal impoverishment protections for beneficiaries receiving long-term care in a home or community care setting. The MFP program allows certain Medicaid users, such as seniors and individuals with disabilities, to transition from a nursing home or institutional care back to their home. Since the MFP program was created over a decade ago, it has successfully helped over 88,000 individuals receive care in their own homes. The MFP program does not require people to leave institutional care; rather, it allows individuals who choose to go home to do so. Spousal impoverishment financial protections erase the institutional bias that has led seniors to choose more costly nursing homes over impoverishment.

"This nation’s long-term care system is broken. I understand the challenges better than many. Seniors, families, and caregivers are often desperate, stressed, and don’t know where to turn,” Dingell said. "This strong, bipartisan, and long-term extensions of the Money Follows the Person program and spousal impoverishment protections will create better outcomes for people receiving long-term care in the home or in the community. We will never stop pushing for long-term care and aging policies that allow seniors to age with dignity in the setting best for them.” 

“I’m proud that the House today took action on bipartisan legislation that takes care of senior citizens in southwest Michigan and across the country,” Upton said. “It is our duty to look out for our elderly, and this legislation ensures that our seniors and their families have important financial protections so they can continue to live full and meaningful lives.”

“The Money Follows the Person Program has allowed thousands of Kentuckians who chose to transition from institutional care to receiving care in their own homes,” Guthrie said. “This legislation empowers individuals to choose where they want to receive their health care, and it also extends other important Medicaid programs. Thank you Congresswoman Dingell working with me on this bill. I urge the Senate to pass it as soon as possible.”   

In addition to having bipartisan support in Congress, the EMPOWER Care Act the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act are endorsed by numerous stakeholder groups.

“Justice in Aging is grateful to the House for passing the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 and investing in Medicaid home and community based services. By extending the protections against spousal impoverishment, the bill ensures married seniors and people with disabilities will continue to have a meaningful choice to age in place with their spouse and stay connected to their families and communities, without fear of financial ruin,” said Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director of Justice in Aging. 

 

“The Arc of the United States congratulates the strong group of bipartisan co-sponsors, on the passage of the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 (H.R. 3253). This bill includes funding for the Money Follows the Person Program for 4.5 years. These funds will ensure that people with disabilities can leave institutions and return back home to their communities. This program has strong data that shows better quality of life for beneficiaries and cost-savings for Medicaid, a win/win. We thank Representative Dingell for her continued leadership on ensuring more opportunities for people with disabilities and aging Americans to have home and community-based long-term services and supports,” said Nicole Jorwic, Senior Director of Public Policy, The Arc of the United States.

 

“Keeping families together at home in the face of a chronic illness sadly remains difficult in many cases. Unfortunately, too many individuals wind up in an institution against their wishes. That’s why we are extremely thankful for this bipartisan bill to extend Money Follows the Person, which covers transition services out of a nursing home, and the guarantee that Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections applies to home and community-based services," said Jennifer VanderVeen, President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

 

“We are extremely grateful for the bipartisan legislation to extend this crucial program that has already helped tens of thousands of individuals across the country.  The Money Follows the Person program both enhances the quality of life for participants and saves Medicaid money.  We are grateful that the House recognizes the importance of the program.  We and our members look forward to the bill's passage, and are excited about the opportunity to continue helping individuals live fulfilling lives in the community,” said Martha Roherty, Executive Director of National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities.

 

“We applaud the House of Representatives’ adoption of legislation that provides long-term stability for the Money Follows the Person program, one of the most effective disability rights initiatives of the twenty-first century. It offers people with disabilities a meaningful alternative to institutionalization and helps safeguard their autonomy, liberty and self-determination. We urge the Senate to follow suit as quickly as possible,” said Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel from the ACLU.

 

“This legislation represents a powerful step forward for millions of Americans who depend on Medicaid services. By extending key provisions that protect spouses from impoverishment and enables care to be provided in our communities, H.R. 3253 will allow families to stay together in their homes while helping the Medicaid program avoid the high cost of unnecessary institutionalization,” said David J. Totaro, Chairman, Partnership for Medicaid Home-Based Care.

 

“As a national organization, LeadingAge supports the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 (H.R. 3253), bipartisan legislation that extends the Money Follows the Person program for an additional 4.5 years, and the extension of protection for Medicaid recipients of home and community-based services (HCBS) against spousal impoverishment. LeadingAge has consistently supported federal laws establishing and continuing protections against impoverishment for all spouses of people who need Medicaid LTSS. We continue to do so because we believe that spouses, providers, and the Medicaid program will benefit from the certainty that this legislation will provide. Ensuring permanent protections for Medicaid recipients of HCBS against spousal impoverishment is crucial to the well-being of older adult recipients of HCBS and those who care for them,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge. “The positive impact of the Money Follows the Person Program is indisputable. This policy enables older adults to live in care settings of their choice and also helps states use federal monies to pay for the providers identified as best-suited to care for an individual, based on need. We support this legislation and are pleased to see this bill pass in the House."

 

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