July 28, 2022
As part of Governor Mills’ commitment to improving services for Maine people with disabilities, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has significantly increased investments in programs that support improved access to housing. New preliminary data shows that as a result, the number of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) receiving support for residential services through MaineCare jumped 46 percent between State Fiscal Year 2017 and July 1, 2022. These individuals receive services through improved access to MaineCare Sections 21 and 29, as part of a broader expansion of home- and community-based services (HCBS) under federal waivers initiated by the Department.
The 46 percent growth in residential services has been entirely driven by an increase in shared living. Shared living provides a family-style living situation that affords opportunities for individuals with IDD to become a member of the household, a family, and their local communities. In addition to fostering independence and community connections, shared living also provides a critical alternative to group homes that have been impacted by pandemic-related constraints and ongoing staffing challenges. As a result of increased access to shared living through HCBS waiver programs, as of July 2022, Maine adults with IDD are now taking advantage of community-based shared living at nearly the same rate as group home settings for the first time since the program began in 2017.
The goal of HCBS is to ensure that Maine adults with IDD can live in the settings that best fits their needs and goals while providing opportunities for access and connections to their communities. To encourage providers to further expand choices for Maine adults with IDD, DHHS plans to use funds provided to the Office of Aging and Disability Services (OADS) through the American Rescue Plan to award Innovation Grants to support new HCBS models that more deeply integrate people into their communities through technology and peer support, and those that adapt to meet the needs of adults with IDD across their lifespan. The request for applications for these grants will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Mills Administration has made historic investments to improve home- and community-based services through the budget as well as new Federal funds. On top of $229 million in Federal matching Medicaid funds for Maine’s HCBS system improvement plan, the biennial budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 invests $90.6 million to increase MaineCare rates for HCBS waiver services for older adults and people with disabilities and brain injury. The supplemental budget added another $68.5 million, for a combined total of $159.1 million.
The Mills Administration has also worked with the Legislature to expand access to home- and community-based waiver services with an expansion of “slots” for individuals needing these services. Each year since 2019, the Governor has supported increased funding to provide greater access to these services.