Florida requests $1.1 billion to boost HCBS funding

On Monday, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) submitted a $1.1 billion spending plan for home and community-based services (HCBS) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The funding would come from increased Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) outlined under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The 10-point percentage increase will last for three years. 

 

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Florida Medicaid Deputy Secretary Tom Wallace outlined three areas HCBS funding will address: 

“Florida’s plan focuses on expanding provider delivery system capacity, enhancing infrastructure that supports and encourages HCBS quality of care, and enhanced services to assist recipients following the pandemic.”

A majority of the spending plan consists of one-time payments to support HCBS waiver programs. Approximately $356.4 million will provide one-time stipends to support current HCBS program activities, and approximately $266.6 million will provide one-time payments to recruit new direct care workers and increase current workers’ retention rate. 

One of Florida’s most significant HCBS waiver programs is the Developmental Disabilities Individual Budgeting Waiver (iBudget). Funding would contribute $191.3 million to remove approximately 20,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities from the program’s waiting list. Florida Health Justice Project Director/Founder Miriam Harmatz noted the importance of expanding care services to people’s homes, according to the Center Square. 

Approximately $50 million will work towards restoring rehabilitative mental health and substance abuse services that were lost during the pandemic, which behavioral health experts say will have long-term effects on Floridians. 

Additional items in the proposal include funding for increased internet and technology access and support for Floridians aged 60 and older who live outside of nursing home-type arrangements.

On Tuesday, Sen. Aaron Bean, Chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, confirmed the ACHA’s submission to the CMS. Once accepted, the CMS will evaluate the proposal for approval.