HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the availability of $60 million in Affordable Care Act grants to states and communities to help individuals and their caregivers better understand and navigate their health and long-term care options.
Through this opportunity made possible by the Affordable Care Act HHS' Administration on Aging (AoA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will work collaboratively to award funds for an integrated approach that focuses on the unique needs of seniors, disabled Americans and their caregivers as they seek health care and long-term care.
"The Affordable Care Act seeks to lower health care costs, improve the quality of health care and perhaps most importantly give people more control over their own care. These new grants, authorized under the new law, will help seniors, individuals with disabilities and their families get better quality care and more control. We've also streamlined the process for states and people who rely on these funds," said Secretary Sebelius.
"We know how difficult it can be for caregivers and patients to try and deal with a sudden illness or chronic disease while at the same time trying to navigate through a complex health care system to figure out where you can get help. These new funds that we have bundled together will help promote better opportunities for coordination of health and long-term supports," said Sebelius.
The purpose of this new grant program authorized by the Affordable Care Act is to create streamlined, coordinated statewide systems of information, counseling, and access that will help people find consumer-friendly answers they seek to meet their health and long-term care needs. AoA and CMS will administer the funding through separate announcements, but will coordinate implementation and monitoring through a single process.
Some specific areas of focus will include assisting individuals who are under-served and hard to reach with information about their Medicare and Medicaid benefits, helping older adults and individuals with disabilities live at home or in settings of their choosing with the right supports, assisting people transition from hospital or nursing home stays back into the community, and strengthening linkages between the medical and social service systems.
"When it comes to long-term health care, each patient has a unique mix of complex medical and social needs that must be considered when seeking care," said Marilyn Tavenner, acting CMS administrator. "Our health care system can offer many options to meeting those needs from traditional nursing home care to home and community-based services. Making patients and their families aware of these options will help them make inherently difficult decisions about long-term care. This integrated program will help families make informed choices and make sure patients have more control over their own care."
AoA and CMS have provided grants to states for several years to develop person-centered systems of information, counseling and access to make it easier for individuals to learn about and access their health and long-term services and support options. This grant program through the Affordable Care Act strengthens and enhances the ability of states to truly integrate the medical and social services care models.
"AoA's national network of community-based organizations has long served as the central place for individuals and families seeking information and help to address health and long term care challenges. This collaborative opportunity between AoA and CMS will further strengthen the network's capacity to help people in a more coordinated and comprehensive way in the communities where they live," said Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for aging.
Funds will be available to states, area agencies on aging (aaa's), State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). Through the grant program, states and local aging and disability programs will receive funds to:
* provide outreach and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries on their Medicare benefits including prevention;
* use additional funds through a competitive process to provide Options Counseling on health and long-term care through ADRCs;
* use additional funds through a competitive process to strengthen the ADRCs role in Money follows the Person program and support state Medicaid agencies as they transition individuals from nursing homes to community-based care; and
* coordinate and continue to embed tested Care Transition models that integrate the medical and social service systems to help older individuals and those with disabilities remain in their own homes and communities after a hospital, rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility visit.
"CMS and AoA share a long-standing goal of expanding access to community-based care for the elderly and individuals with disabilities. The Affordable Care Act provides significant resources for state Medicaid agencies and providers to balance the nation's long-term care systems and assure that individuals have a choice of where and how they receive their services," said Cindy Mann, director of CMS's Center for Medicaid, CHIP, and Survey and Certification.
The announcement combines funding opportunities from several provisions in the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, including the Role of Public Programs (Title II, Sections 2403 - Money Follows the Person and 2405 - Funding for Aging and Disability Resource Centers) and Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Health Care (Title III. Section 3306 - Funding for Outreach and Assistance for Low-Income Programs).
These grants also complement President Obama's "Year of Community Living Initiative," which focuses on better serving those individuals with disabilities who need ongoing services and support programs in the community such as those provided by AoA, CMS and other HHS agencies.
The deadline for applications is: Monday, July 30, 2010. Grants will be awarded in September 2010. For more information about this grant opportunity, please visit http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/Grants/Funding/index.aspx or www.grants.gov.
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