CMS encourages state Medicaid directors to redirect funds for home-care

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Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Wednesday that state Medicaid directors need to capitalize on ways redirect or "rebalance" Medicaid funds so the elderly can stay at home and out of nursing homes.

"There is growing evidence that states can enable more people to live in the community by giving the elderly and people with disabilities more control over how they get the Medicaid services they need," said CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan.

The letter offers examples of successful programs that give beneficiaries more control and result in more community participation, without raising Medicaid costs.

The letter also explicitly stated that adding more re-balancing strategies does not require states to refrain from backfilling nursing facility beds.

President Bush has taken many steps to encourage states to provide assistance in the home, including the 2001 New Freedom Initiative, for which he has authorized $1.75 billion in funding between 2005 and 2009.