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Guthrie Introduces Bipartisan Medicaid Bill

Washington, February 26, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) this week reintroduced the bipartisan Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources (EMPOWER) and Care Act (H.R. 1342).

The EMPOWER Care Act will help certain Medicaid beneficiaries receive long-term care in their homes or communities by reauthorizing the federal Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration program for five years. This 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.

Guthrie and Dingell first introduced the EMPOWER Care Act last Congress, and a short-term version of this bill was signed into law in the Medicaid Extenders Act earlier this year.

“The EMPOWER Care Act will do just that: Empower people with disabilities to decide where to receive care,” said Guthrie “I was proud to join Representative Dingell to introduce this bipartisan bill to extend the Money Follows the Person program, which has already helped hundreds of Kentuckians make the transition from a nursing home or facility to receiving care in their own home and communities. This program does not force patients to leave a facility if they don’t want to; rather, it allows individuals to decide what is best for them. I look forward to seeing this bill pass in the House.”

In addition to having bipartisan support in Congress, the EMPOWER Care Act is endorsed by numerous stakeholder groups.

“This important legislation will ensure that individuals who could be helped by MFP to live in their homes and communities will not be forced into an institution instead, and it’s for that reason that we will be proud to advocate for its passage,” said David J. Totaro, Chairman, Partnership for Medicaid Home-Based Care.

“The Money Follows the Person Program has had immeasurable impact on our ability to transition individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities out of institutions and into the community,” said National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS) Executive Director Mary Lee Fay. “Along with providing much-needed enhanced resources to build successful supports around individuals moving into community settings, MFP also provides rebalancing funds that states have used to transform their systems to make it easier for people to get high quality long-term supports and services in the setting of their choice. Through these funds, states have learned a great deal about how to ensure successful transitions, and have eliminated many policy barriers to community living.”

“The Jewish Federations of North America, which represents one of the most expansive health care, aging, and human services networks in the country, congratulates Representatives Dingell and Guthrie for their leadership in introducing the EMPOWER Care Act to extend Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person program. MFP has helped more than 80,000 older adults and people with disabilities lead more independent, engaged, and productive lives. “his bipartisan legislation empowers people to return to live in their communities with appropriate supports if they choose,” said William C. Daroff, Senior Vice President for Public Policy & Director of JFNA’s Washington Office. “We applaud these two champions for their long-standing and tireless commitment to improving the lives of older adults and people with disabilities.”

“Money Follows the Person has been one of the most effective disability rights programs 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 hope reauthorization of this vital program will be swift and sure, ” said Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel from the ACLU.

“The Arc of the United States is grateful to Representatives Dingell and Guthrie for introducing the EMPOWER Care Act. This bill will fund desperately needed transitions for people with  disabilities and Aging Americans out of institutions and back to their communities. The bill also creates important flexibility for states to modernize their systems with a focus on home and community-based services,” said Nicole Jorwic, Director of Rights Policy, The Arc of the United States

“Money Follows the Person has been transformative for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their quest to transition to true community living,” said ANCOR CEO Barbara Merrill. “Within our 1,600-member community of providers and beyond, MFP has been a key ingredient in supporting individuals’ ability to live in environments appropriate for their support needs, and we applaud Representatives Guthrie and Dingell for pioneering legislation to extend MFP’s legacy well into the future.”