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Family Input Guides State Plan for Children With Medical Complexity

August 5th, 2021

Illinois awaits approval to use FMAP funds for improving care for our Home Care Program participants

Illinois has developed a plan to use increased federal funding to improve support and services for children and youth with complex medical needs.

This plan incorporates valuable feedback from our participants, stakeholders and staff members at the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC).

The extra funds are part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The act gives Illinois a temporary 10 percent increase in federal funding for home and community-based services (HCBS). This 10 percent increase is called the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage or FMAP.

Illinois must use the FMAP funds to enhance, expand or strengthen HCBS.

HCBS includes the waiver for children who are medically fragile and technology-dependent (MFTD). Therefore, the FMAP can provide extra funds to help support children and youth in the Home Care Program and their caregivers. FMAP improvements will also affect individuals who receive in-home, shift-based nursing as a non-waiver benefit.

In late May, DSCC asked our participant families, staff and community partners for input on how to use the FMAP funds. We also sought feedback on DSCC’s ideas for improving HCBS for Home Care participants.

We shared the input we received with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). We then worked with HFS to develop Illinois’ proposal for using the FMAP funds.

Ideas included in the proposal are:

  1. Expand consumer direction (the ability for consumers to make choices about the services they receive) to allow unlicensed family caregivers to be paid caregivers. DSCC would then work to develop health and safety monitoring, assist with training and more. This change could provide caregiver relief to a large number of Home Care families.
  2. Develop a nursing portal where open shifts could be posted by nursing agencies and families. This portal would be visible to home nurses and families. The intent is to try to improve nursing coverage for open shifts across the state.
  3. Improve training and access to training to help improve the quality of nursing care in the home. This initiative would include developing training that builds on and complements existing training for caregivers in the home.
  4. Increase the in-home respite nursing rates to match the rates from the 2019 nursing rate increase.
  5. Increase the child-specific training rates to match the rates from the 2019 nursing rate increase.

HFS submitted Illinois’ proposal to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in July. We are now awaiting its approval and planning for the necessary next steps.

It is important to note that though the FMAP funding increase is temporary, we hope to make many of these changes permanent. We are discussing how to handle any relevant long-term costs with HFS.

We are excited about this opportunity to improve care for our Home Care Program participants.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their ideas and feedback with us.

We will continue to share updates on the status of Illinois’ proposal as they become available.