Earlier this week, the Department of Health Service (DHS) submitted a tentative plan to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlining their spending plans for federal funding received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS).
The more than $350 million in funding comes from a one-year 10% bump in matching federal funds. CMS has to approve the plan before the state can begin using it and Wisconsin has until 2024 to spend the money.
DHS plans to raise Medicaid rates for home and community-based services by 5 percent, starting in calendar year 2022. DHS assistant administrator of benefits and service delivery, Curtis Cunningham shared this plan with the Wisconsin Long Term Care Advisory Council on Tuesday. He indicated that DHS wants to introduce rate increases that can be sustained in the future and they envision doing so in the next biennial budget.
Cunningham also shared that the state also plans to use funds to hire an actuarial firm to develop a rate band system to better reflect appropriate rates. Introducing such a system was something WHCA/WiCAL has been pushing for and included in budget requests for this year.
DHS also wants to provide relief on the staffing side of things for providers so they’ve also included several provisions to address professional advancement in their plan. This would include the creation of a statewide registry of direct care workers. They also plan to invest in professional training and technical assistance resources.
The plan also includes modernizing Aging & Disability Resource Centers, creating an assisted living information reporting tool and working with Wisconsin tribes to further their long term care systems.
At this point, WHCA/WiCAL has not received any feedback from the Governor’s office from their separate ARPA funding request submitted in May.