Affordable Care Act grants to help patients navigate health and long-term care options

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced the availability of $60 million in Affordable Care Act grants to states and communities to help patients and their caregivers better understand and navigate their health and long-term care options.

The HHS’ Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will award funds to integrated approaches that focus on the unique needs of seniors, disabled Americans and their caregivers.

“We know how difficult it can be for caregivers and patients to try and deal with a sudden illness or chronic disease while at the same time trying to navigate through a complex healthcare system to figure out where you can get help,” said Sebelius. “These new funds that we have bundled together will help promote better opportunities for coordination of health and long-term supports.”

The new grant program is expected to create streamlined, coordinated statewide systems of information, counseling and access that will help people find consumer-friendly answers to their health and long-term care needs.

Areas of focus will include assisting the under-served and hard to reach with information about Medicare and Medicaid benefits, helping older adults and individuals with disabilities live at home or in settings of their choosing, assisting people transitioning from a hospital or nursing home back into the community, and strengthening links between medical and social service systems.

“When it comes to long-term healthcare, each patient has a unique mix of complex medical and social needs that must be considered when seeking care,” said Marilyn Tavenner, acting CMS administrator. “Our healthcare system can offer many options to meeting those needs from traditional nursing home care to home and community-based services.”

The grant program is also designed to strengthen and enhance the ability of states to integrate medical and social services care models.

“AoA’s national network of community-based organizations has long served as the central place for individuals and families seeking information and help to address health and long-term care challenges. This collaborative opportunity between AoA and CMS will further strengthen the network’s capacity to help people in a more coordinated and comprehensive way in the communities where they live,” said Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging.

Funds will be available to states, area agencies on aging, state health insurance assistance programs and aging and disability resource centers.