State Meets Improvement Benchmark for Alaska’s Medicaid Waiver Programs
Alaska meets federal deadline to erase backlog of needs re-assessments
(Anchorage, AK) - Alaska's Division of Senior and Disabilities Services met a major benchmark for improvement of its four Medicaid waiver programs yesterday by completing overdue needs re-assessments for program participants.
The programs, funded by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), provide home‑ and community-based care for Alaskans with serious health needs who would otherwise require care in a hospital, nursing home or other facility.
CMS placed a temporary hold on new applications to the waiver programs and Personal Care Assistance services in June, citing concerns about a backlog of annual needs re-evaluations and administrative procedures.
CMS lifted the moratorium after working with the Department of Health and Social Services to set a series of improvement benchmarks and deadlines. The agencies prioritized completing overdue waiver needs re-assessments by Oct. 15.
The state met that benchmark, completing all re-assessments possible. In some special cases, evaluations are still pending.
"Senior and Disabilities Services staff members have worked long hours to make this happen, together with applicants, care coordinators and providers who met with employees early, late and on weekends," Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan said. "I congratulate and thank them for their efforts on behalf of the Alaskans we serve and their families."
Assessors have also completed more than a third of pending Personal Care Assistance assessments of new applicants and re-assessments of current recipients.
The department met another key benchmark on Sept. 3 when it submitted a Corrective Action Plan to CMS, detailing steps to improve service oversight, quality and access. CMS and the department are now collaborating on approval of the plan, a process that could take months.
"We're still at the beginning of long-term improvements," Senior and Disabilities Services Director Rebecca Hilgendorf said. "We look forward to the day when the changes we're making to Alaska's home‑ and community-based programs pay off in quicker access to strictly monitored, high quality services for the people who need them."
For more information and a video interview with Director Hilgendorf on the CMS review, see http://hss.state.ak.us/dsds/cmsreview.