WASHINGTON Feb 22 States stand to gain
billions of dollars as provisions in the U.S. healthcare plan
to move Medicaid patients out of institutions come on-line,
with 13 states awarded $45 million in grants on Tuesday, the
Health and Human Services Agency said.
"Our country recognized in the Americans with Disabilities
Act that everyone who can live at home or community-based
settings should be allowed to do so," Health Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius said in a statement announcing the grants.
Medicaid is the health program for the poor that was
greatly expanded under the healthcare reform plan President
Barack Obama signed into law last March.
In extending Medicaid's reach, the U.S. government is also
increasing reimbursements sent to states and awarding new
grants for the program.
Still, most states are worried they will not have enough
money to administer many of the parts of the healthcare plan
and are requesting waivers for implementing components they
cannot afford under their stretched budgets.
Many are also trying to block the law in federal courts,
saying it usurps states' and individuals' rights.
Florida, which is leading a multi-state legal challenge to
the law, was one of the 13 states awarded a grant on Tuesday to
move the elderly, people with disabilities, and Medicaid
recipients with mental illnesses from nursing homes and other
institutions back into their homes or communities.
The federal government said the grants will likely help
Massachusetts received the largest grant of $13.5 million,
followed by Minnesota, which was awarded $13.4 million in the
Starting in October, states will also receive a 6 percent
increase in the federal reimbursements for providing nurses and
other home-based support to people on Medicaid.
Through 2014, states could see a total of $3.7 billion in
new funds to pay for attendants who help individuals with daily
activities such as bathing, and also to help move people by
paying for utility deposits, rent or household supplies.
The federal government is currently seeking comments on how
to implement this part of the law, but expects states to
establish councils with a majority membership of people with
disabilities and elderly individuals to design the programs.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Andrew Hay)