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Oversight of Quality of Care in Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waiver Programs

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Quality of Care Oversight in Medicaid Waiver Programs

Meridith Seife Meridith Seife, a Deputy Regional Inspector General for the Office of Evaluation and Inspections in New York, is interviewed by Roberta Baskin, OIG Director of Media Communications.


In recent years, States have altered their approach to providing Medicaid-funded long-term care services. Rather than providing the majority of that care in institutions-such as nursing homes-States are now providing more care in homes and other community-based settings. States most often provide this care through 1915(c) home and community-based services (HCBS) waiver programs, and the individuals served by these programs are most commonly disabled and/or over age 65. In fiscal year 2010, Medicaid expenditures for HCBS waiver programs serving this population totaled an estimated $8.9 billion. Strong oversight of waiver programs is critical to ensuring the quality of care provided to HCBS beneficiaries. The beneficiaries who rely on HCBS waiver programs are among Medicaid's most vulnerable, and the nature of these programs puts beneficiaries at particular risk of receiving inadequate care.


States must operate their HCBS waiver programs in accordance with certain "assurances," including three assurances related to quality of care. To meet these assurances, States must demonstrate that they have systems to effectively monitor the adequacy of service plans, the qualifications of providers, and the health and welfare of beneficiaries. We based this study on a review of documents from CMS's most recent quality review of waiver programs from 25 States, as well as information gathered from structured interviews with staff from the 10 CMS regional offices.


Seven of the twenty-five States that we reviewed did not have adequate systems to ensure the quality of care provided to beneficiaries. Although CMS renewed the waiver programs in all seven of these States, three did not adequately correct identified problems. Not only did these States fail to correct these problems before renewal of their programs, they also had still not adequately addressed the problems long after renewal. In addition, CMS did not consistently use the few tools it has to ensure that States correct problems related to quality of care.


We recommend that CMS: (1) provide additional guidance to States to help ensure that they meet the assurances, (2) require States that do not meet one or more assurances to develop corrective action plans, (3) require at least one onsite visit before a waiver program is renewed and develop detailed protocols for such visits, (4) develop a broader array of approaches to ensure compliance with each of the assurances, and (5) make information about State compliance with the assurances available to the public. CMS concurred with four of the recommendations and partially concurred with our recommendation to require onsite visits.