Yes, you read that right. The Washington Examiner reported: “Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Wisconsin and Utah are applying for waivers under Medicaid that would limit how long certain enrollees can remain on the program.” The Portland Press Herald already has published an editorial opposing such a change.
Medicaid is the primary source of coverage for long-term services and supports (LTSS), including home and community-based services (HCBS) that help people with disabilities (and seniors) with self-care and household activities. Massachusetts’ waivers at DDS (Department of Developmental Services) provide $822 million in revenue to the Commonwealth. The DDS and MassHealth long term disability supports are usually used for a lifetime once someone is enrolled.
The continued scrambling at Capitol Hill for reducing the Medicaid and Medicare budgets (as well as Social Security) will continue into 2020. The recent tax reform law guarantees that well into 2020s, we will be sending out warnings to individuals and families about potential changes in our services.
To be reimbursed by federal funds, Massachusetts must identify who it is serving through the “waivers.” A service recipient must agree to be on the waiver. When placed on it, he/she has federal rights which can be helpful when personally advocating. Services or supports cannot be carelessly adjusted (there are state regulations preventing such actions, too).
Massachusetts is renewing three of the DDS home and community waivers and we recently received an email about a review period. We will share our comments by the March 8 deadline. You can learn more and review these renewals here. More information about waivers in general can be found here.
Leo V. Sarkissian