People with Disabilities Transition to Community Settings

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After a required planning phase, a new "Money Follows the Person" grant will help 900 people with disabilities go from living in nursing homes and institutions to living in the community.

The Nebraska Health and Human Services System (HHSS) will receive $202,500 the first year to develop a statewide long-term care plan, and will receive a total of $27,538,984 over five years to develop community services for individuals with disabilities. Nebraska is one of 17 states to receive this grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

"We should all be able to choose where we want to live and have a chance to participate in community life," said Chris Peterson, Chief Administrative Officer for HHSS. "This grant supports the choice of 900 people to move from nursing homes and institutions for people with mental retardation to community settings."

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That group of 900 includes seniors and people who have physical or developmental disabilities or traumatic brain injuries, she said.

This grant builds on recommendation from Nebraska's Medicaid Reform Report of 2005 to rebalance the long-term care system by moving from a costly institutional model to a community services approach. According to CMS, the purpose of the grant is to shift Medicaid from its emphasis on institutional long-term care services and give people more choices, including home and community services.

Mary Jo Iwan, Administrator for Home and Community Services in HHSS, said that the first year of the grant will involve consumers, providers, advocates, the public, and agency staff. These stakeholders will be asked for their ideas on how to remove barriers to community living for people of all ages who have disabilities and long-term illnesses.

The grant will design a rural solution that creates needed services statewide and will increase community supports and services and access to behavioral health supports in the community.

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