Congress established the Medicaid Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program to provide states with federal funding to help seniors who are receiving care in institutions but want to live at home.
However, it is not a permanent program and is due to expire in September 2023. Advocates are pushing for Congress to make MFP permanent, ensuring that states have funding for seniors who wish to return home from long-term care facilities.
What Is the Medicaid Money Follows the Pereson (MFP) Program?
MFP was established in 2005 to increase Medicaid enrollees’ access to home- and community-based services (HCBS). In part, its goal is to allow seniors to avoid nursing homes and other institutions, and instead receive care in their own homes and communities if they choose. Other beneficiaries of the program include people with disabilities.
MFP allows the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to remove the restrictions that are placed on how funds are allocated for long-term services. It increases the use of HCBS services instead of long-term services and support.
How Does MFP Help Older Adults?
Throughout its existence, MFP has helped seniors who otherwise would have been institutionalized maintain control over their lives by providing a chance at independent living. In the nearly two decades since the program began, MFP has helped more than 107,000 people move from a nursing home or a long-term care facility back into their home. One evaluation found that MFP results in greater life satisfaction among participants.
Returning home from an institution is a tall task for most seniors. A major concern is the lack of staff to take care of an individual’s medical and personal needs. In many cases, seniors must rely on family members. MFP helps ease the burden of transitioning from care facilities back home.
Examples of the type of support MFP provides seniors as they move back home typically include:
- Help paying for groceries
- Short-term transitional housing
- Security deposits for rental homes and apartments
- The cost of necessities for setting up a home (e.g., stair-lifts, wheelchair ramps)
Can MFP Help Seniors Secure Housing?
The federal government funds the Medicaid Money Follows the Person program. Medicaid is prohibited from paying for housing directly. MFP allows states to use money from the program to pay for case management and transitional support services for seniors.
To address the needs of low-income seniors, state governments have used MFP funds to partner with housing authorities and developers to ensure more housing options are available for seniors who want to live independently.
Will the Medicaid Money Follows the Person Program End?
MFP has been a Medicaid demonstration program since 2008. Demonstrations are used to determine whether programs should become permanent. More than 40 states and territories currently are a part of MFP.
However, Congress has inconsistently funded MFP. The uncertainty about whether the program will have long-term funding has made it difficult for states to budget, so over time some states have been opting out of the program entirely. If MFP expires in 2023, many more seniors will be forced to live in long-term care facilities, losing the independence they desire.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will make the program permanent. If it does, states will have a set amount of money to increase seniors’ ability to live on their own as they age.