NEW GUIDE OFFERS ADVOCATES A ROADMAP FOR HELPING CLIENTS OBTAIN MEDICAID HOME AND COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES
The comprehensive new Guide will help advocates assist low income elderly and disabled Floridians who need services in their homes to avoid institutionalization.
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA August 28, 2018 –Florida Health Justice Project (FHJP) has partnered with Florida Justice Technology Center (FJTC) and Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. (LSGMI) to create a new Long-Term Care Benefits resource for advocates. The Guide analyzes and explains the eligibility requirements for home health benefits – such as home-delivered meals, attendant nursing care and assisted living services – through Florida’s Long-Term Care Waiver program, helping advocates for seniors navigate the process for requesting and receiving benefits for those in need.
It’s no secret that these government-subsidized health benefits are crucial for our senior population, especially for those on a fixed income and/or who are disabled or ill. Unfortunately, essential long-term services, particularly those that allow the patient to remain in their home or community, are typically not offered through Medicare or traditional medical insurance. Instead, they are managed through Florida’s Long-Term Care program, under the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care System.
As with most government-issued benefits, the processes for applying and receiving benefits can be confusing. In addition, the “Waiver” – the portion of Florida’s Long-Term Care Program that provides home health benefits – has both a cap on the number of individuals it can serve and a wait-list for enrollment.
“For Florida seniors who want to stay out of a nursing home after they can no longer handle the routines of daily living, these services are critical, but, like many Medicaid services, navigating the system is complicated,” said co-author Miriam Harmatz, Co-Director of the Florida Health Justice Project.
To address this concern, Harmatz joined forces with FHJP co-founder, Katy DeBriere, Michelle Adams, Research Assistant for FHJP, and Jocelyn Armand, Advocacy Director for LSGMI, to create the Advocate’s Guide to the Florida Long Term Care Medicaid Waiver. The project also received technical assistance from Nancy Wright, a leading expert on Florida’s Medicaid Long-Term Care Waiver and Eric Carlson, Directing Attorney at Justice in Aging, and a leading national expert on Medicaid long term care services, as well as Valory Greenfield, staff attorney with Bay Area Legal Services Florida Senior Legal Helpline, and Anne Swerlick, Florida Medicaid expert and Health Policy Analyst with the Florida Policy Institute.
“The Advocate’s Guide is a much-needed resource for advocates and consumers alike,” said Jocelyn Armand. “The Guide’s roadmap helps navigate one of the most complex parts of the Medicaid program and we are extremely appreciative to the Florida Health Justice Project for the opportunity to collaborate on this crucial endeavor.”
FJTC took the lead on dissemination of the Guide, by turning it into an online, interactive version that can be seen at LTCWaiver.org. “The advocate community plays such an important role in expanding access to justice,” said Project Manager, Joseph Schieffer,” because they’re the ones advising and assisting those in need. We wanted to create something that would amplify their work and streamline the process to find information. Having the Guide online makes it easier for advocates to navigate the content and share it with others.”
This is the second such collaboration between FHJP and FJTC. Earlier this year, the two organizations, along with Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida , partnered to create The Advocate’s Guide to the Florida Medicaid Program. “These Guides exemplify our mission and work,” said Harmatz. “Through collaboration with FJTC, local legal services programs, and national partners, we’re providing needed resources for Florida’s legal aid and pro bono advocates who are helping clients get medically necessary services.”
The Guides are also featured on FLAdvocate.org, Florida’s statewide website for legal services attorneys, managed by FJTC. “The Guides are truly the first of their kind in Florida,” said Alison DeBelder, Florida Advocate Community Engagement Manager. “They are not just a PDF, but an easy-to-navigate intuitive tool that advocates can use to simplify a very complex process. I wish everything worked this way!” Joyce Raby, FJTC’s Executive Director, agreed. “We’re very excited for the opportunity to work with FHJP again,” she said, “and this Guide is a perfect example of how simple solutions can make a big impact in the fight to bridge the justice gap.”
FJTC is an independent statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, devoted to increasing access to justice through the innovative use of technology.
3122 Mahan Drive, Suite 801-202
Tallahassee, FL 32308
FHJP is a newly established 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization, seeking to improve health care access and outcomes, including support of Florida’s Medicaid expansion efforts.
Legal Services of Greater Miami provides free civil legal services for the low-income communities of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties and is recognized as one of the most outstanding legal services programs. They develop strategies for the delivery of creative, effective advocacy including in the areas of education, health, public benefits, immigration and tax and have produced projects such as the LGBT Gender Justice Project, Children’s Legal Services Project, Veterans Advocacy Project, Low Income Tax Clinic, Resident Re-Entry Project, Homeless Legal Advocacy Project, and the Ryan White Project