Iowa has become the first state to get federal approval to add home- and community-based services to its Medicaid plan. Specifically, Iowas benefit will provide case management services and habilitation services at home or in day-treatment programs.
Services approved under this option will help people delay or avoid institutional stays or other high-cost, out-of-home placements, according to HHS. Iowa benefited from new terms set by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which allows states to change their Medicaid benefit package without having to go through a burdensome waiver process. Such waivers were generally limited to three or five years, requiring states to ask for renewals. In addition, the waiver process could take months to complete.
Stopping the burdensome cycle of continually having to request federal government permission to offer a benefit that is good for people and programs will be a huge relief for states and beneficiaries, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a news release. The Deficit Reduction Act also removed the prior statutory requirement that beneficiaries get needed services at home only if they would need institutional care without them. -- by Jennifer Lubell