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MADISON – The State of Wisconsin is using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to fund a 5 percent increase in Medicaid reimbursements paid to several types of home and community-based services. The change was announced this week by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and Gov. Tony Evers’ office.

The new reimbursement rates took effect on Jan. 1 and will run through March 31, 2024. Medicaid is a federal and state health assistance program for lower-income elderly and disabled residents.

Examples of home and community-based services, or HCBS, include care received at an assisted living facility, personal care, home health, residential substance use disorder treatment, respiratory care, in-home nursing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

“It is essential that we invest in our long-term care infrastructure so Wisconsinites who are elderly or who have a disability are able to access the services and support they need to live as independently as possible in their community,” DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said in a news release. “These rate increases are needed now more than ever as providers of care and services for our elders and adults and children living with disabilities are also being affected by the current surge in COVID-19 cases.”

The announced rate increase for HCBS is being made in addition to the investments in support of the Medicaid HCBS workforce provided through the 2021-23 state budget. This included funding to increase the hourly rate for personal care services, increases for behavioral treatment services for individuals with autism and other disorders, increases for home health, therapeutic services, and Family Care providers.

These investments will be significant to support individuals in their homes, the DHS reported. As one example, when the workforce investments in the 2021-23 budget are combined with the 5 percent, the hourly reimbursement rate for personal care services will be increased by 14 percent from $19.16 per hour and $21.84 per hour.

Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...