New funding will ensure that a program that moves people with disabilities from institutions to the community can stick around while advocates push for a longer-term solution.
President Donald Trump signed legislation late last week allocating an additional $20 million to Money Follows the Person. Through the program, states can access Medicaid funding to pay for employment supports, housing and other services so that people with disabilities can transition from nursing homes and other institutional facilities to homes in the community.
Money Follows the Person officially expired in 2016 and by the end of last year, every state was running out of whatever funds remained. Advocates have been pushing for a renewal of the program through a bill known as the EMPOWER Care Act. But, when that failed to materialize, lawmakers approved a $112 million, three-month extension earlier this year.
Now, with prospects for a long-term solution still unrealized, Congress approved the latest round of funding in order to tide over the program through the end of the government’s fiscal year in September, albeit in a reduced fashion.
Nicole Jorwic, senior director of public policy at The Arc, said she “considers it a victory when Congress decides to spend a large amount of money on a program that affects so many people with disabilities.” Nonetheless, she indicated that the repeated incremental funding is taking its toll.
“We do know that states have slowed their transitions down,” Jorwic said. “The ones that were already in the pipeline are moving forward but because the funding is only going to be through September, that doesn’t give the states a lot of solid ground to start new transitions.”
Since 2006, states have received about $3.7 billion to help over 88,000 people transition out of institutions through the Money Follows the Person program.
Jorwic said her group is pushing its members to keep advocating for the EMPOWER Care Act, H.R.1342, which would tag $450 million annually for the program through 2023.