Frequently Asked Questions about the federal review of Alaska’s Medicaid waiver programs for home- and community-based services
Can I apply for Medicaid waiver programs and Personal Care Assistance services again? If so, how do I apply?
- Yes. To apply, contact an SDS-certified care coordinator. They will work with you to submit the application to the Division of Senior and Disabilities Services.
Where can I find a care coordinator?
What is the background on the federal review and the moratorium on new applications?
- The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reviewed Alaska’s Medicaid waiver programs and Personal Care Assistance services in May 2009. On June 26, 2009, CMS placed a temporary hold on new applications to these programs and services for Alaskans who need help with basic daily living activities.
CMS put the hold in place because the state had a significant backlog of annual re-assessments of consumers’ care needs, and CMS directed the state to improve its administrative oversight of the programs and services.
After working closely with the state, CMS clarified the hold did not apply to the Personal Care Assistance services in mid-August. CMS granted the state’s request to allow emergency applications to the waiver programs in late August, and shortly thereafter lifted the moratorium entirely, on the condition that 1) the state continue to reduce its backlog of re-assessments, and 2) continue with administrative improvements.
How many people are served by the Medicaid waiver programs/ Personal Care Assistance?
As of Sept. 23, 2009:
- Children with Complex Medical Conditions waiver: 231
- Persons with Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities waiver: 1,231
- Adults with Physical Disabilities waiver: 917
- Older Alaskans waiver: 1,308
- Personal Care Assistance services: 3,330. Some of these individuals also receive waiver services.
What exactly is an (re-)assessment? Does it determine if you are eligible for services or is it a check to see if you still need services?
- Both. Assessments are conducted when someone first applies, and are done regularly – usually annually – thereafter. The “check-up” assessments are known as re-assessments.
Different assessment tools are used for waivers and Personal Care Assistance, but they are all designed to determine the person’s functional abilities and whether or not he or she meets the eligibility criteria of a need for an institutional level of care.
What are examples of improvements that Senior & Disabilities Services is making?
- The state has made progress on several CMS concerns by hiring new staff to do re-assessments; updating provider training and offering it online; and adopting electronic assessment tools to increase efficiency and reduce the chance of errors.
This will be a long process – more than a year. We will be reviewing the entire service system and making improvements in a variety of areas.
One example of an improvement is the Critical Incident Reporting system that SDS is developing. This is an official procedure for tracking errors and accidents, such as a medication mix-up, and how such events will be prevented in the future.
Where can I get more information on CMS’s recommendations to the state, and what the state plans to do?
- We sent our Corrective Action Plan to CMS on Sept. 3, 2009 spelling out steps the state is taking to ensure the waiver programs are run according to federal requirements.
As new information becomes available, we will post it in the CMS Review section of the SDS Web site and e-mail updates to providers.
Who at Senior and Disabilities Services can I call if I have a question?