August 2, 2021

Questions Remain After Florida Files Spending Plan for New Federal Dollars to Enhance Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services

In a June letter spearheaded by Florida Policy Institute, 31 organizations called on Governor Ron DeSantis to act on Florida’s time-limited opportunity to receive millions in additional federal Medicaid funding for home- and community-based services (HCBS). These are new federal dollars under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that are available to states which apply for them. States were required to submit a spending plan to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by June 12, 2021, or request a 30-day extension by that date. 

After requesting the 30-day extension, on July 12, 2021, Florida policymakers filed with the federal government the state’s spending plan and narrative describing the proposed use of over $1 billion in new federal and state dollars for HCBS. ARPA requires that these funds be used on services provided during the period from April 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022.

Florida's proposed uses for these dollars include, but are not limited to:

  • financial incentives to address provider recruitment and retention challenges;
  • one time subsidy payments for Floridians 60 and older living in family-type private homes;
  • funds for additional devices for clients such as smartphones, computers, and internet activation fees;
  • funds to purchase eyeglasses, wheelchair transfer boards, and additional environmental modifications;
  • funds to eligible providers, including school-based providers, to deliver mental health and substance abuse treatment; and
  • funds to remove people from the waiting list for HCBS provided under the Agency for Persons with Disabilities program.

However, many questions remain on specific details for implementation of the plan, including how these funds will be distributed among providers and waiver programs.  

The state currently faces substantial unmet HCBS needs, with over 80,000 Floridians on waiting lists

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