Following years of uncertainty, federal lawmakers are working to renew a popular Medicaid program that moves people with disabilities from institutions into the community.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 371 to 46 last week to extend the so-called Money Follows the Person program for four and a half years.

The federal program offers states money to cover employment supports, housing and other services so that individuals with disabilities can transition from nursing homes and other institutional facilities to homes in the community.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Money Follows the Person officially expired in 2016 and states were exhausting whatever funds they had remaining when the program got a short-term extension in January. Then, with no long-term solution in sight, lawmakers approved legislation this spring to tide the program over through September.

Now, advocates are hoping that Congress will cement a multiyear plan and they’re pushing the Senate to take up the measure, which includes over $1.99 billion in funds.

“States that had a program were helped with the temporary funding, but we really need to see the longer-term extension pass to see the robust taking up of the program that we have seen since 2005,” said Nicole Jorwic, senior director of public policy at The Arc.

The bill approved by the House this month, known as The Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access and Strengthening Accountability Act, or H.R. 3253, would reauthorize Money Follows the Person through 2024.

Jorwic called the program a “win-win” providing cost savings for Medicaid while offering people who want to leave institutions a better quality of life.

“These funds will ensure that people with disabilities can leave institutions and return back home to their communities,” she said.

About $3.7 billion has been spent on Money Follows the Person since 2006, allowing states to help more than 88,000 people leave institutions.