What is Medicaid Managed Long Term Care?
Managed Medicaid Long Term Care (MMLTC), also called Medicaid Managed Long Term Services and Supports (MLTSS), is a way in which states can deliver long term Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS), as well as nursing home care, to the elderly and disabled. With the Medicaid managed care delivery system, state Medicaid agencies contract with managed care organizations (MCOs), essentially private health insurance companies, who provide health care plans. For each program participant, a set monthly rate, formally called a capitation rate, is paid to the MCO to cover the services and supports included in one’s plan. In turn, program beneficiaries must utilize providers that are part of the MCO’s provider network.
The managed care delivery system for Medicaid long term care programs is growing in popularity, as demonstrated by the increase in such programs across the states. In 2004, just 8 states utilized this type of delivery system, and as of July 2019, Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reported this figure had increased to 25 states. Within the states that offer MMLTC, many states have more than one managed long term care program.
Some MMLTC programs only cover long term services and supports, such as in-home personal care assistance, adult day care, and home health care, other programs offer Medicaid acute care (inpatient and outpatient hospital services, laboratory services, physician visits, etc.) and Medicaid long term care, and still others streamline the benefits of acute care from both Medicaid and Medicare and Medicaid long term care services for dual eligible persons (those eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare benefits). Some programs require mandatory enrollment, while others have optional enrollment.
What is Medicaid Fee-For-Service?
While many states are turning to managed care for the delivery of Medicaid long term services and supports, many states also still utilize a non-managed Medicaid long-term care delivery system. Also called Medicaid fee-for-service (FFS), this is the traditional delivery method of Medicaid benefits. In fact, it is not uncommon for states to give a Medicaid beneficiary the option of choosing between a managed care program and a fee-for-service program.
Unlike with managed care, for non-managed long-term care, a program participant is not limited to a network of care providers. Instead, one can see / receive services from any provider who accepts Medicaid. Furthermore, the state pays providers directly for each service provided to a program participant. This is in contrast to managed care in which the state pays a set monthly rate for each program participant to receive services and supports.
Long Term Services and Supports via MMLTC
With both managed care and fee-for-service Medicaid, program participants can receive a variety of long term home and community based services. These benefits are intended to help the elderly and disabled continue to live at home or in the community, rather than require placement in a nursing home. Potential benefits vary based on the state and the managed care program in which one is enrolled. Examples of long term services and supports that may be available are in-home personal care, homemaker services, adult day care, home health care, durable medical equipment, personal emergency response systems, home delivered meals, respite care, home / vehicle modifications, and non-medical transportation. Medicaid programs may also cover services and supports in assisted living residences or adult foster care homes. Please note that many MMLTC programs also cover the cost of nursing home care.
How to Choose Between MMLTC & Fee-for-Service: Pros & Cons
For Medicaid managed long term services and supports, there are both pros and cons. If presented with a choice between MMLTC and Fee-for-Service, consider some of the following.
Reduced / Controlled Costs for States – Given that states pay a fixed monthly rate to a managed care organization for each program participant in a managed care program, the state knows its costs ahead of time and is better able to control its budget. Remember, with fee-for-service Medicaid, the state pays providers for each service provided, which makes it difficult to budget and control costs.
Increased Efficiency in Care Coordination / Delivery of Services and Supports – With managed care, the managed care organization coordinates all services for program participants. This is in contrast to fee-for-service Medicaid, in which a program participant may have several agencies coordinating all of their program benefits. Furthermore, some managed Medicaid long term care programs include prescription drug benefits or Medicare benefits, so program participants are able to receive all of their Medicaid and Medicare benefits via one program. Care plans may also be shared via electronic health records (EHRs) for ease of communication between providers. All of this equates to program participants and their family members spending less time and effort in coordinating care.
Potential Additional Program Benefits – Some managed care organizations might include services that are not usually available via non-managed Medicaid long term care.
Some States Have Seen a Decrease in Waiting Lists for Long Term Care Services and Supports – Many states offer long term services and supports for the elderly and disabled via 1915(c) home and community based services Medicaid waivers, which limit the number of program participants. This means that it is not uncommon for there to be a waitlist for long term care services. While there may be a waitlist for some services via Medicaid managed long term care programs, some states have been able to eliminate or decrease the number of persons waiting for services.
Program Participants are Limited to a Network of Providers – Program participants are only able to use providers who are in their managed care organization’s network of providers. This means that upon acceptance into a managed care program, one may have to switch their current providers, as program participants cannot use any provider that accepts Medicaid.
Sense that There is a Shift From a Patient Centered Approach to Being a Number – Some managed care beneficiaries may feel they are seen as a number, rather than as a patient. This could be reflected in the attitude of care providers and physicians towards program participants.
Which States have MMLTC?
According to Kaiser (KFF), as of July 1, 2019, 25 states utilized a Medicaid Managed Long Term Services and Supports model for delivering program benefits.
While the exact eligibility qualifications for Managed Medicaid Long Term Care Programs vary based on the state and the specific program, all programs have financial (income and asset limits) and functional (generally a nursing home level of care) eligibility criteria. To see Medicaid eligibility criteria by state, click here. For state specific questions, persons can contact the Medicaid agency in the state in which they reside. Contact information can be found here.