Program Aims to Keep More Low-Income Seniors Out of Nursing Homes

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California is expanding a program that allows low-income elderly and disabled people eligible for care in a nursing facility to stay in their own homes instead.

Between now and 2021, the Department of Health Care Services plans to expand what’s known as the Home and Community-Based Alternatives waiver program from just under 4,000 slots to almost 9,000. The program, funded through the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, pays for skilled-nursing care, home health aides, personal care services and case management to patients in their homes or in a community setting.

Anthony Cava, a spokesman for Department of Health Care Services, said the goal is to meet growing demand for nursing-home type services among seniors and disabled people covered by Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for low-income residents. Almost 3,500 people are currently enrolled in the Home and Community-Based Alternatives program, and another 2,600 are on a waiting list. The program is expected to reduce costs and improve the health of people enrolled, he said.