Money Follows the Person Yields Medicaid Savings in Georgia

A Georgia Health Policy Center study confirms that Medicaid programs can achieve savings by providing long-term services and supports in the community setting. In Georgia, savings were seen across three populations served by the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program—individuals with developmental or physical disabilities and older adults—after they transitioned from facilities back to the community. These findings are timely given national debate over the future design of Medicaid programs and current discussion of continuation of funding for the MFP program.

Money Follows the Person (MFP), a Medicaid demonstration program currently implemented in 43 states, including Georgia, helps people who are living in institutions (e.g., psychiatric residential treatment facilities, nursing homes, or other long-term care facilities) return to their homes and communities while continuing to receive supportive services. To aid the transition back to the community, MFP participants are eligible to receive supports not typically paid for by Medicaid, including security and utility deposits, furnishings and basic household items, moving costs, environmental modifications to make a residence accessible, connections with peer supports, and other community services.

Georgia was one of the first states to implement MFP in 2008 and to date, Georgia has transitioned more than 2,200 participants through MFP. The Georgia Health Policy Center conducts ongoing evaluations of MFP in the state. Using data from Georgia’s Medicaid payment and enrollment systems from January 2009 to December 2012, GHPC researchers assessed total Medicaid expenditures for more than 800 MFP participants, including 410 individuals with developmental disabilities, 244 individuals with physical disabilities, and 177 older adults.

The findings show that across all populations served by Georgia’s MFP program, total average per-member, per-month Medicaid expenditures were lower during participation in the MFP program and 12 months after leaving the program, compared to expenditures in the six months prior to transitioning from an institution.

“This indicates that Medicaid expenditures of individuals who have lived in institutional settings – some for decades – can be managed after temporary, programmatic supports are no longer available,” says Glenn Landers, Sc.D., the lead author of the study. “These results are timely, as the nation debates the future design of Medicaid programs. However, it is important to remember that adequate staff, infrastructure, and housing must also be in place to ensure appropriate transitions to community living.”

Study coauthors include Kristi Fuller and Mei Zhou, both from the Georgia Health Policy Center. Click here to read the full study, published Dec. 20, 2017 in the Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association.