Medicaid long-term care reforms sail through Alabama Senate

Medicaid patients in Alabama would have more options to receive long-term care in their community under a bill that the state Senate passed 27-0 Tuesday.

SB 431, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, would create one or more integrated care networks (ICNs) to deliver a broad range of Medicaid long-term care services, ranging from home- and community-based supports to nursing home care. A House version of the plan – HB 585, sponsored by Rep. April Weaver, R-Brierfield – won committee approval earlier this month.

The new system would operate in coordination with the Medicaid regional care organizations (RCOs) set to take effect Oct. 1, 2016. The new RCO model is designed to keep patients healthier while cutting costs, but Medicaid could have to abandon it if the severe cuts under the House’s no-new-revenue General Fund budget become law.

SB 431 effectively would lift long-standing participation caps on home- and community-based waivers, enhancing patient choice and expanding care options that are less costly than institutionalized care. The plan represents a significant breakthrough with the nursing home industry and was developed by the Medicaid Long-Term Care Workgroup, of which Arise is a member. The bill calls for each ICN to have a Citizens’ Advisory Committee that includes members nominated by Alabama Arise and a number of advocacy partners.

By Jim Carnes, policy director. Posted May 19, 2015.