29 September 2008

HHS Announces $36 Million to Help Older Americans and Veterans Remain Independent

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced
$36 million in new grant programs to 28 states to help older Americans
and veterans remain independent and to support people with Alzheimer's
disease to remain in their homes and communities. Just over $19 million
of this funding involves a new collaboration with the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA).

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and VA Secretary James Peake, M.D., announced
the joint effort to provide essential consumer-directed home and
community-based services to older Americans and veterans of all ages, as
part of a Nursing Home Diversion (NHD) grants program. The new
initiative builds on the similar missions of HHS and the VA with regard
to caring for the populations they serve. In addition, Secretary
Leavitt announced a $17 million investment to improve the delivery of
home and community-based services to people with Alzheimer's disease and
their family caregivers.

In announcing the collaboration, Secretary Leavitt said, "This historic
HHS-VA initiative combines the expertise of the HHS' national network of
aging services providers with the resources of the Veterans Health
Administration to provide more people, including our nation's veterans,
with improved long-term care options. This unique effort supports the
President's New Freedom Initiative which calls upon all federal agencies
to help people who need long-term care and prefer to live in their own
homes and communities to do so. Through this joint program, many people
who would have previously been placed in nursing homes will be able to
remain at home."

"Our mission is to honor and support America's veterans, and this
collaboration provides an additional opportunity to do that by offering
more services, choices and control over decisions to veterans in the
least restrictive environment consistent with their needs and
preferences," Secretary Peake said.

The new program will be administered by HHS' Administration on Aging
(AoA) in collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration. Under
the program, $10.5 million is being provided by HHS through AoA, and
$5.7 million by the states. VA estimates purchasing at least $3 million
in veteran-directed home and community-based services for older veterans
and for recently returned veterans with long-term care needs. The
number of veterans over age 85 has tripled during the past decade,
creating a significant expansion in the need for long term care.

"The HHS funding is specifically designed to reach people who are not
eligible for Medicaid, but who are at high risk of nursing home
placement and spend-down to Medicaid -which often occurs when private
pay individuals enter a nursing home," said Assistant Secretary for
Aging Josefina G. Carbonell. "The program will also offer consumers
more control over their long-term care, including the ability to
determine the types of services they receive and the manner in which
they receive them, including the option of hiring their own care
workers."

The $17 million for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their
caregivers involves grants to 22 states under AoA's Alzheimer's disease
demonstration programs. States were able to apply for two types of
grants: Innovation Grants and Evidence-Based Program Grants. Innovation
Grants will demonstrate new approaches to delivering services and
supports, and the Evidence-Based Grants will support the replication of
science-based interventions that have already proven to be effective at
helping people with Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders to
continue to live in the community.

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