Male nurse consulting with senior female patient and adult daughter in exam room
(Credit: The Good Brigade / Getty Images)

Efforts to track data on assisted living communities, retain workers and encourage planning for long-term care are among the projects receiving technical assistance from a national nonprofit to launch or expand initiatives funded by federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The ARPA HCBS TA Collective, through ADvancing States, began working with Wisconsin, Michigan, Delaware, Colorado and Alabama in January to provide technical assistance on HCBS-related projects funded by American Rescue Plan Act dollars distributed to states.

In Wisconsin, which received $2.5 billion in ARPA funding, the state Department of Health Services will partner with the technical assistance team to strengthen its HCBS programs, address direct care workforce issues and develop strategies to delay the need for long-term care. 

Specifically, the Badger State wants to make it easier to collect data on and track certification of assisted living settings. With help from the technical assistance team, the state plans to create an online tracing system for certifying one- to two-bed adult family homes and create a secure, online system to review potential HCBS setting providers. 

Michigan will receive assistance on expanding Medicaid eligibility. The state also will receive help designing a “Own Your Future” long-term care campaign to increase public awareness about the need for people to plan for their future long-term care needs.  

In Delaware, the technical assistance team will support the design and implementation of $5 million in HCBS innovation pilot grants for providers, advocacy organizations or other entities to fund and evaluate new ways to deliver effective HCBS services. Focus areas for grants are workforce retention, health-related social needs, access to independence-enhancing technologies, and support for family caregivers. Each pilot project could be funded up to $250,000.

Colorado is building a long-term plan for sustaining its investment in HCBS. The technical assistance consultant also will help the state evaluate which pilot programs should continue.

The technical assistance is being funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Care for All with Respect and Equity (CARE) Fund, the Milbank Memorial Fund and the SCAN Foundation. 

This project builds on prior rounds of technical assistance funding from October 2021 to June 2022, in which the ARPA HCBS TA Collective supported more than 30 states on ARPA HCBS initiatives. The ARPA was signed into law in March 2021, providing $1.9 trillion in economic stimulus aid for pandemic recovery programs.