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March 02. 2012 11:19PM

More money for elderly and disabled in NH

New Hampshire will get $26.5 million over three years to support elderly and disabled individuals in the community instead of in institutions, federal officials said Friday.

It is the first grant to a state under the Balancing Incentive Program, which will provide a total of $3 billion to states under the Affordable Care Act.

“We are absolutely committed to consumer-directed care,” Nancy Rollins, associate commissioner for N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a conference call. She said the program offers the possibility that “all consumers and their caregivers will have the supports they need in order to live in their community.”

Rollins oversees the Division of Community-Based Care Services.

Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement, “We hope other states will follow New Hampshire's lead in seeking this new grant money.”

The DHHS Balancing Incentive Program will partner with community organizations throughout the state to develop systems of community-based care that serve seniors and individuals with behavioral health needs, physical disabilities and intellectual disabilities.

The funds can be used for services such as personal care, respite care, transportation, enhanced family care, care coordination, and general services and support needed to assist people in their own homes, if possible, or in the community outside an institutional setting.

New Hampshire's next step will be to develop a work plan for using the funds, Rollins said, “to make sure there is no wrong door for people seeking access to home and community-based care.”

The state hopes to standardize and automate the sign-up process for eligible individuals.

The national percentage of Medicaid spending on home and community-based services has more than doubled from 20 percent in 1995 to 43 percent in 2009, CMS said.

“These new grants will help states like New Hampshire give people with long-term care needs the choice about how and where to live their lives,” said Cindy Mann, director of the CMS Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services.

New Hampshire's grant funds will run from April 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2015.

Although all states are now providing optional home- or community-based long-term support for the elderly or disabled persons under Medicaid, demand frequently exceeds state resources, CMS said.

“Thanks to health reform, more seniors and people with disabilities will be able to continue to live in their homes and communities, rather than a nursing home,” Tavenner said.


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