HHS Helps Older Americans, Veterans Remain Independent
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced $36 million in new grant programs to 28 states to help older Americans and veterans remain independent and to support people with Alzheimer's disease to remain in their homes and communities. Just over $19 million of this funding involves a new collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and VA Secretary James Peake, M.D., announced the joint effort to provide essential consumer-directed home and community-based services to older Americans and veterans of all ages, as part of a Nursing Home Diversion (NHD) grants program. The new initiative builds on the similar missions of HHS and the VA with regard to caring for the populations they serve. In addition, Secretary Leavitt announced a $17 million investment to improve the delivery of home and community-based services to people with Alzheimer's disease and their family caregivers.
In announcing the collaboration, Secretary Leavitt said, "This historic HHS-VA initiative combines the expertise of the HHS' national network of aging services providers with the resources of the Veterans Health Administration to provide more people, including our nation's veterans, with improved long-term care options. This unique effort supports the President's New Freedom Initiative which calls upon all federal agencies to help people who need long-term care and prefer to live in their own homes and communities to do so. Through this joint program, many people who would have previously been placed in nursing homes will be able to remain at home."
"Our mission is to honor and support America's veterans, and this collaboration provides an additional opportunity to do that by offering more services, choices and control over decisions to veterans in the least restrictive environment consistent with their needs and preferences," Secretary Peake said.
The new program will be administered by HHS' Administration on Aging (AoA) in collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration. Under the program, $10.5 million is being provided by HHS through AoA, and $5.7 million by the states. VA estimates purchasing at least $3 million in veteran-directed home and community-based services for older veterans and for recently returned veterans with long-term care needs. The number of veterans over age 85 has tripled during the past decade, creating a significant expansion in the need for long term care.
"The HHS funding is specifically designed to reach people who are not eligible for Medicaid, but who are at high risk of nursing home placement and spend-down to Medicaid -which often occurs when private pay individuals enter a nursing home," said Assistant Secretary for Aging Josefina G. Carbonell. "The program will also offer consumers more control over their long-term care, including the ability to determine the types of services they receive and the manner in which they receive them, including the option of hiring their own care workers."
The $17 million for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers involves grants to 22 states under AoA's Alzheimer's disease demonstration programs. States were able to apply for two types of grants: Innovation Grants and Evidence-Based Program Grants. Innovation Grants will demonstrate new approaches to delivering services and supports, and the Evidence-Based Grants will support the replication of science-based interventions that have already proven to be effective at helping people with Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders to continue to live in the community.