How will the EMPOWER Care Act affect HHAs?

The Empower Care Act (Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources, and Care) was re-introduced to the senate early in 2019. This bill is intended to expand as well as renew/reauthorize funding and participation in the transitioning of Medicaid beneficiaries from hospital or institutional settings to home and community-based services under the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration Program implemented in 2016.

The overall purpose of the MFP was to grant individuals the freedom to age in place rather than nursing homes. The funds are intended to provide more options for those wishing to remain at home.

Short-term funding of MFP transitions is slated to end in September 31, 2019. The new bill hopes to extend the program for an additional five years.

How would funds benefit home health services?

Because MPF’s funding expired in 2018, the Empower Care Act hopes to provide approximately $450 million for every fiscal year between 2018 and 2022, with the bulk of those funds going to state Medicaid programs.

The funds would aid in moving Medicaid beneficiaries from nursing homes and other institutional settings into community or home-based care scenarios.

It’s also designed to aid individuals with disabilities as well as seniors to return to a home environment following institutional care (hospital, long-term care center, rehab facility, and so forth).

A major benefit to individuals is that long-term home-based care costs less than institutional care. Based on past statistics, participants in MFP experience an average of 25% decline in monthly care expenses after transitioning from a LTC facility to Home & Community Based Services (HCBS).[1]

A brief summary of the bill specifies that CMS must award grants to state Medicaid programs in order to facilitate and assist in rebalancing long-term care systems. The bill – if passed – expands sustainability for transitions from institutional to ‘qualified community settings’ to be carried out under state-based MFP projects. The goal is to improve health outcomes and person-centered care and planning scenarios.

It has since been referred to the Committee on Finance.

Precision Medical Billing is closely following the status of the bill, still in the very early stages of the legislative process. For information on billing services for home healthcare needs, contact us today.

[1] https://medicaid.publicrep.org/empower-care-act/