Michigan’s adults 50 and over will have greater access to services allowing them to live independently as they age, as a result of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget signed by Governor Whitmer on Wednesday.
The AARP Michigan-supported spending increases for the Department of Health and Human Services will leverage federal funding to support in-home services, telemedicine, dementia awareness, and expansion of care for older Michiganders.
The budget adds $19.1 million to the MI Choice Waiver program, allowing for an additional 1,000 enrollees to access services at home. Also included is a $1 million addition for senior services, $3.5 million for nutrition services like Meals on Wheels, as well as funding for wage increases and career development for Michigan’s direct care workforce, which provides in-home services for seniors.
A $400,000 allotment will support a dementia unit in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“These increases are vital for providing our seniors with the support and care they need in order to remain in their own home as they age, which is where they prefer to be,” said Paula D. Cunningham, AARP Michigan State Director. “We applaud the Governor and legislators for making care for vulnerable adults a priority in this state.”
Here’s a more detailed look at how these measures will help:
- Home and Community Based Services - The budget enables the most significant expansion of MI Choice, the Medicaid HCBS program, in many years. The program provides services for 50-plus adults who qualify for Medicaid and who, without these services, would not move into a nursing home. The additional $19.1 million will add 1,000 slots for adults who have been on waiting lists. MI Choice currently serves about 17,000 people.
- Dementia Unit - $400,000 in funding was earmarked to create a Dementia Unit within the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services. Creation of the unit will help elevate dementia as a public health priority, coordinate and improve service delivery, and advance efforts to increase awareness about dementia and brain health, including both caregiver resources and how people can improve their chances of maintaining their cognitive health.
- Telemedicine Parity - The budget for the first time included language to require reimbursement parity for Medicaid-funded behavioral and physical health services provided through telemedicine, as if the service involved face-to-face contact between the health care professional and the patient.
- Direct Care Workers – A $2.35 per hour hazard pay increase for direct care workers was included in the spending plan. While the pay hike is needed to help improve care, AARP Michigan also supports career ladders for care workers, credentialing, and other improvements that would support higher job satisfaction.