The Money Follows the Person!

Dec 22, 2011
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The term “the money follows the person” refers to the right of a person with a disability in an institution to move into housing in the community, still receiving the Social Security (SSI) Medicaid payments and coverage that they had been awarded to pay for their life in the institution.

It was established as a cost-cutting measure in 2005, as part of the Deficit Reduction Act (RDA). It is a demonstration grant program originally created to operate from 2005-2011; and now extended to operations through 2016 as part of the 2010 Health Care Reform act.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently are participating in the program. As of July 2010 about 9,000 individuals with disabilities had been transitioned to homes in the community from the institutions. An additional 4,000 such transitions are currently underway.  The majority of transitions were made for people with physical disabilities. People with mental illness, developmental disabilities and dual disabilities were less likely to benefit from the demonstration program. Of the 9,000 people assisted with transition to the community, only 322 persons returned to live in an institution over the initial six year period of program operation.

The most common services need to help people transition to lives in the community included:

  • Home modifications (structural)
  • One-time housing expenses such as security deposits and home furnishings
  • Assistive technology
  • Transportation
  • Collaborations between planners and independent living centers, AAAs and state housing authorities.

On average it cost about $5,600 per person to live in the community (range $2,000 – $15,000).  Twenty-two states (about half) reported that the per capita costs were lower in the community than they were for institutionalization. Six states reported that it cost more for a person to live in the community than it did for them to live in the institution- and seven states reported that the costs were comparable.

Officials of the program stressed the importance of having a supportive infrastructure in the community so that it can offer the necessary tools, resources, and training to support people with disabilities in the community. Having community service providers is a key to success of the program.

The report is called:

Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. “Money Follows the Person: A 2010 Snapshot”.  [Report number 8142] It is available online from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

For information on how you can help someone transition to the community from an institution, contact your state office on disability to see if they are participating in the Money Follows The Person Demonstration Grant.

You may learn more about the project from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Author: Tanya