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    Program Helps Some Nursing Home Residents Go Home Again

    February 14th, 2011

    Given the choice of long-term care at home or in a nursing facility, most people would choose to stay in their own home. Now, there is a program that helps people make the transition back home after living in an inpatient facility.

    The program is called “Money Follows the Person” (MFP), and that’s a good description of how it works. Medicaid-eligible individuals get to apply their Medicaid dollars to their choice of long-term care—the money follows the individual, instead of staying with a particular type of institution or care facility.

    Although anyone can apply for the program, Doris Hire’s son worked with an attorney to give them the best chance of being approved.

    This is good news for everybody. The nursing home resident gets a chance to choose how to spend his or her last years, and the rest of us get the added benefit of tax dollar savings—experts estimate that for each person who takes advantage of MFP, care costs could be reduced by about 60%. On average, a year of nursing home care costs more than $75,000 per person.  Medicaid picks up two-thirds of that cost for people who are disabled or poor, or about $58,000 per person per year. On the other hand, people who receive intermediate-level care in the home spend about $32,000 per year, which includes meal delivery, daily health aide visits, and cleaning services. Higher-level skilled care can run to about $42,000–still about 25% less than Medicaid dollars spent for an inpatient facility.

    An article in today’s Winston-Salem Journal tells the story of Doris Hire, the first person in Forsyth County to take advantage of this new program. According to the article:

    After two years in a nursing home, she [Doris Hire] is once again living with her husband, Ray Hire, 83, in their home off Peacehaven Road in Clemmons.

    “I never intended to stay (in the nursing home) that long,” she said. “I am grateful to the program for bringing me home.”

    A home-health worker comes to her home every day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Her helper, Karen Hanchock, who works for Tender Care of Winston-Salem, assists the wheelchair-using woman, helping her bathe, groom and exercise. Hanchock also cooks for her and does light housekeeping.

    Without the flexibility offered by Money Follows the Person, the Hires would still be loving each other, but living apart.

    Who Is Eligible?

    Not everyone who wants to live at home can live at home. Some people have medical or personal care needs that require round-the-clock care. Additional eligibility requirements include:

    • The person must have lived in an inpatient nursing facility for at least three months.
    • The person must be receiving Medicaid services.
    • The person must have a “qualified residence” to move into. Qualified residences can include a person’s own home or apartment, the home of a family member, or a group home with four or fewer people.
    • The person must live in a part of the state that has an active MFP program.

    Every year as part of their annual assessment, nursing homes are now required to ask residents: “Where do you want to live?”  For those who want to and can live at home, MFP offers a cost-effective helpline.

    To learn more about the Money Follows the Person program, click here:  NC Division of Medical Assistance

    To read the full article in the Winston-Salem Journal, click here: Helping Seniors Return to the Comforts of Home

    And if you have legal questions about nursing homes or nursing home abuse, please feel free to visit our website at https://www.lawmed.com/. Or, you can call HensonFuerst Attorneys at 1-800-4LAW-MED. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.