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Key State Policy Choices About Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services

State policy choices about Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) shape these benefits in important ways for the seniors and people with disabilities who rely on them to live independently in the community. This issue brief presents the latest data from the KFF’s annual survey of Medicaid HCBS program policies in all 50 states and DC.

Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Enrollment and Spending

Medicaid continues to be the primary payer for home and community-based services (HCBS) that help seniors and  people with cognitive, physical, and mental health disabilities and chronic illnesses with self-care and household activities. This issue brief presents Medicaid HCBS enrollment and spending data from KFF’s annual state survey and includes tables with detailed state-level data.

Potential Changes to Medicaid Long-Term Care Spousal Impoverishment Rules: States’ Plans and Implications for Community Integration

To financially qualify for Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS), an individual must have a low income and limited assets. In response to concerns that these rules could leave a spouse without adequate means of support when a married individual needs LTSS, Congress created the spousal impoverishment rules in 1988. Originally, these rules required states to protect a portion of a married couple’s income and assets to provide for the “community spouse’s” living expenses when determining nursing home financial eligibility, but gave states the option to apply the rules to home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers.
Section 2404 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), changed the spousal impoverishment rules to treat Medicaid HCBS and institutional care equally from January 2014 through December 2018. Congress subsequently extended Section 2404 through March 2019. This issue brief answers key questions about the spousal impoverishment rules, presents 50-state data from a 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation survey about state policies and future plans in this area, and considers the implications if Congress does not further extend Section 2404.

Implications of the ACA Medicaid Expansion: A Look at the Data and Evidence

More than four years after the implementation of the Medicaid expansion included in the Affordable Care Act, debate and controversy around the implications of the expansion continue. Despite a large body of research that shows that the Medicaid expansion results in gains in coverage, improvements in access and financial security, and economic benefits for states and providers, some argue that the Medicaid expansion has broadened the program beyond its original intent diverting spending from the “truly needy”, offers poor quality and limited access to providers, and has increased state costs. New proposals allow states to implement policies never approved before including conditioning Medicaid eligibility on work or community engagement. New complex requirements run counter to the post-ACA movement of Medicaid integration with other health programs and streamlined enrollment processes. This brief examines evidence of the effects of the Medicaid expansion and some changes being implemented through waivers. Many of the findings on the effects of expansion cited in this brief are drawn from the 202 studies included in our comprehensive literature review that includes additional citations on coverage, access, and economic effects of the Medicaid expansion.

Key Themes in Medicaid Section 1115 Behavioral Health Waivers

State interest in Medicaid Section 1115 behavioral health waivers, including mental health and substance use disorders, remains high. As of November, 2017, there are 15 approved and 11 pending behavioral health waivers in 22 states. This issue brief describes recent waiver activity in four areas: using Medicaid funds to pay for substance use and/or mental health services in “institutions for mental disease” (IMDs), expanding community-based behavioral health benefits, expanding Medicaid eligibility to cover additional people with behavioral health needs, and financing delivery system reforms.

Key Issues in Long-Term Services and Supports Quality

This issue brief discusses four key issues related to long-term services and supports (LTSS) including institutional and home and community-based services (HCBS) quality, highlighting major legislative and policy changes over the last 30 years since the passage of the Nursing Home Reform Act.