Thursday, July 19, 2012

Links to comments on the CMS proposed regulations (CMS-2249-P2) for Medicaid waivers

It is always illuminating to read comments on proposed policies for people with disabilities from people and organizations with differing perspectives, agendas, and interests. Here is the link for finding comments on the proposed regulations on Home and Community Based Services waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services  (CMS-2249-P2). To read the comments, click on the blue highlighted text that begins with the abbreviation for the state and the name or organization of the commenter. Sometimes the comments appear in full on the opened page, but usually they are attached, either as a Word document or a PDF file. Look for "View Attachments" and click on "DOC" or "PDF" to open.

HCBS Medicaid waivers have been around for a long time and are used to pay for community services as an alternative to services provided in institutions. Medicaid law identifies institutions as nursing homes, Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded (ICF/MR), hospitals for mental diseases and other hospital settings. In MIchigan, the Habilitation Supports Waiver (HSW) is the Medicaid waiver for people with developmental disabilities. It is currently used to pay for a wide range of services and settings from supported living services provided in the disabled individual's own or family's home to state-licensed community-based facilities that provide more intensive care and support. It also pays for community living services that enable an individual to fully participate in community activities and services, as well as specialized day and skill training programs in accordance with the individual's plan of services developed through a person-centered planning process.

If these proposed regulations were to become final as they are now written, they would make it more difficult to use Medicaid waiver funding to pay for settings that are deemed to have "qualities of an institutional setting" as defined by the regulations and ultimately the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This would undermine and lead to the likely closure of many specialized programs that have been designed by family and community organizations that are person-centered, consumer-driven and based on choice. Also threatened would be state-licensed facilities and other programs operated by Community Mental Health agencies or CMH contracted providers.

Here are links to comments that are of special interest to people living in Michigan:
The national organization for protection and advocacy agencies, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), has also commented on the proposed regulations. Many national and statewide organizations have submitted comments that agree with the comments from NDRN.

Here is an especially poignant plea from 86-year old parents who have finally found the right place for their son and fear it might be threatened by these regulations.

No comments: