State veterans homes pursuing Medicare, Medicaid certification

Published 6:52 pm Monday, February 15, 2016

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency would receive $70 million to support the Michigan Veteran Health System under Gov. Rick Snyder’s fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations, which were announced today.

The recommendation includes $8 million for MVHS to pursue federal certification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – a move that is critical to the long-term financial stability of Michigan’s veterans homes.

“This funding will help ensure our veterans receive quality care while aligning Michigan with best practices in the veteran health care field,” Snyder said. “More than 600 men and woman live in these facilities, and this step will allow the Michigan Veteran Health System to provide improved and necessary care for veterans of today and tomorrow.”

CMS certification would allow MVHS to collect additional federal funding available to Medicare- and Medicaid-eligible residents whose cost of care is not fully covered by VA per diem rates.

The $8 million investment includes a $1.9 million supplemental to the FY 2016 budget to create a Medicaid pilot at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. This would fund a Medicaid consultant to provide guidance to both homes on the certification process as well as additional nursing staff to accommodate CMS specifications, with the goal of CMS certification at the facility in FY 2017.

The governor’s recommendation also includes $6.1 million in the FY 2017 budget for construction and infrastructure improvements at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, including the remodeling of the facility’s fourth floor. These capital improvements would also move GRHV closer to its goal of CMS certification in FY 2018.

Since MVAA stood up in 2013, the two homes have been working toward CMS certification for two reasons. First, to remain responsive to the current and future health care needs of their veteran residents; and second, to better leverage state funding and fully collect available federal funding.

“In this day and age, we are caring for veterans with complicated needs related to limited mobility, chronic illness, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress,” MVAA Director Jeff Barnes said. “This investment will enable the Michigan Veteran Health System to modernize our facilities and services to meet these current and emerging needs.”

Capital improvements to both homes have better positioned MVHS to receive CMS certification, including:

• Implementation of electronic medical records at both state veterans homes.

• The creation and construction of family rooms and living rooms for visitors at DJJHV.

• An increase in the number of surveillance cameras and the installation of card access pads on many exterior doors at GRHV.

• The installation of a patient anti-wandering system for some units at GRHV.

The governor’s budget recommendations also included $16.2 million for MVAA to provide veterans outreach services and better connect veterans with the benefits they’ve earned.