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Your UCP: National October 13, 2003
Health & Wellness

Healthcare

HHS Approves Alabama Program for Individuals with a Disability

Washington, DC - HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today [February 10, 2003] announced the approval of a new Medicaid waiver in Alabama that will provide services to certain Medicaid-eligible individuals over the age of 21 with a substantial disability.

The waiver will assure continued support for people who might otherwise lose their services simply because they turn 21. Many such individuals receive vital health coverage under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program, but that coverage ends at age 21.

"We are pleased to see Alabama come forward with a program that will allow people with a disability to continue living in their own homes, in their own communities," Secretary Thompson said. "The Bush administration is committed to helping states and the disability community change old programs and develop new ones that will serve people with disabilities in the settings that work best for them."

Eligible individuals under the new Alabama waiver will be offered private duty nursing, personal care/personal attendant services, medical supplies and appliances, and assistive technology services in addition to the Alabama Medicaid State Plan services. Participants in this home and community based waiver will also be offered newly approved targeted case management services. The program is expected to serve up to 30 individuals in the first year.

The federal home and community based waiver program, administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, was developed to help those individuals who would otherwise require care in a nursing facility to avoid institutional or other high-cost, out-of-home placement by providing services that are not offered under the Medicaid state plan.

The President has strongly encouraged states to develop better community services in his Executive Order 13217 for his New Freedom Initiative. The initiative directed federal agencies to identify and tear down barriers that prevent community living on the part of people of any age who have a disability.

The President's proposed 2004 New Freedom budget proposal includes more than $1.75 billion over 5 years to help federal and state Medicaid funds to "follow the person" to the most appropriate and preferred setting and enable states to reduce their reliance on institutions.

"We are glad to work with Alabama - and any state - to help elderly and people with disabilities participate fully in their communities," CMS Administrator Tom Scully said. "This will be helpful to a lot of people, including Nick Dupree."

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