Raleigh, N.C. – As of Jan. 1, 2013, patients living in group homes are no longer eligible for Medicaid payments for personal care services such as assistance with eating, bathing or doing daily chores and activities. Changes in federal rules are responsible.
State officials said today that they freed up $1 million to allow patients with mental illness and developmental disabilities to stay in North Carolina group homes through the end of January. Gov. Beverly Perdue said last month that she wouldn’t allow group home residents to be forced out on the streets.
Although the governor’s ability to alter the budget is limited, she cited her authority based on unforeseen circumstances to keep group home residents in place for another month.
“We must do something quickly so that our most vulnerable citizens are not starting a new year homeless,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Al Delia, who announced the plan because Perdue was sick and unable to speak.
According to Delia, the money is coming from a housing finance program that wasn’t spent this year.
Last year, changes in the budget were approved to help adult care homes with similar issues involving Medicaid reimbursements for personal care services. The language of the bill, however, disqualifies group homes, which often house six to eight patients.
The $1 million will cover housing for group home residents throughout North Carolina from Jan. 1 to Jan. 31 and lawmakers can help the transition next year. Given the timeframe, lawmakers would only have two days to develop and approve a more permanent situation after they reconvene on Jan. 30. Advocates for group homes say this isn’t enough time.
According to Barbara Dudley, who runs a group home for women with disabilities in Raleigh, told Wral.com that all six of her residents require help with dressing and bathing. She said they wouldn’t be able to survive on their own if her home was forced to shut down.
“I don’t know where they would go. There is nowhere for them to go,” Dudley said.
Another problem, not addressed by the funding, is the 3,000 to 4,000 Alzheimer’s patients who live in adult care facilities. According to Delia, 40 percent of funding will be pulled from the adult care facilities under new Medicaid rules.
Delia said the stat plans to request current reimbursement rates while patients appeal the changes.
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