CMS offers extra year to spend enhanced Medicaid home care funding

States will get an extra year to use enhanced Medicaid home- and community-based services funding, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Friday.

The dollars will now be available through March 31, 2025, for states that want the additional time, CMS wrote in a letter to Medicaid directors.

Congress provided states with a 10-percentage-point increase in federal Medicaid matching funds for home- and community-based services spending as part of COVID-19 relief legislation last year. States were originally required to spend the money by March 31, 2024.

“We are addressing states’ concerns, giving states the time and resources to strengthen connections to care at home and in communities,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a news release.

States can use the funds to increase home care workers’ pay, invest in capital improvements, expand home care offerings, broaden eligibility for services, improve health equity and support regulatory compliance.

As a condition of the increased matching funds, states cannot create stricter eligibility standards for Medicaid home care, reduce home- and community-based service payment rates or scale back the scope of services. All 50 states and the District of Columbia earned approval to claim the higher funding.

President Joe Biden’s administration pushed for permanent expanded funding for home- and community-based services but the effort stalled in the Senate. The administration asked for $400 billion to be included in a budget reconciliation package last year. The House passed a bill in November that would have authorized an additional $150 billion for home- and community-based services, but the measure died in the upper chamber.

Senate Aging Committee Chair Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and other proponents continue to press for the more money to support these services.

“An investment in home-based care is urgently needed. It will help people get back to work. It will give families peace of mind because they know that their loved ones are cared for. It will also give home care workers, the majority of whom are women from communities of color, a much-needed and long overdue raise,” Casey said in a news release in March.

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