WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, the Chairs and Ranking Members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce sent a calling for the Department to immediately distribute emergency relief from the Public Health & Social Services Emergency Fund to Medicaid-dependent providers of community-based disability services.
The letter to Secretary Azar was written in response to the fact that Medicaid disability supports have not received any dedicated emergency relief funding to manage through the pandemic, despite the 68 days that have passed since the Emergency Fund was signed into law on March 27. To date, HHS has disbursed or committed about $87 billion of the $175 billion appropriated by Congress for essential health care services, but as the letter notes, “HHS has, thus far, relied on methodologies that favor providers that receive a larger share of their payments from Medicare or private insurance.” To the contrary, these methodologies have deprioritized Medicaid-funded disability providers.
The letter—co-signed by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Representative Greg Walden (R-OR)—calls for a “dedicated distribution from the [Emergency Fund] for providers that rely on Medicaid” in light of the authors’ “serious concerns with the ongoing delay of funding.” This delay, they go on to note, exacerbates the financial fragility of providers “that operate on thin profit margins, if at all.” ANCOR’s recent report on the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on Medicaid-funded disability providers confirms these challenges, finding that the average provider could operate for just one month using the cash they had on hand in the event that their typical revenue streams were disrupted.
“As the leading voice for Medicaid providers in Washington, ANCOR applauds Representatives Pallone and Walden and Senators Grassley and Wyden for reinforcing the calls to action voiced by our members over the past three months,” said Barbara Merrill, chief executive officer for ANCOR. “Medicaid providers and the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who rely on them have been the pandemic’s forgotten faces, and the letter to HHS from the Senate Finance and House Energy & Commerce Committees is the sharpest indictment yet of the administration’s ongoing delays. Medicaid programs and the people who rely on them can no longer afford to wait.”
Buttressed by its 1,600+ provider members and thousands of other advocates, ANCOR has been leading efforts to secure emergency funding since the pandemic began, and that advocacy has been responsible, at least in part, for efforts by congressional leaders to hold HHS accountable for COVID-19 appropriations. However, as Shannon McCracken, vice president for government relations at ANCOR, noted, “Our work here is far from over. There’s clearly growing momentum for what our members have been insisting on from our federal response to the pandemic, but now we must turn our attention to reinforcing the calls to action included in [the congressional letter].”
That call to action compels HHS to respond to a series of questions no later than June 10, including:
- What is HHS’ timeline to release a dedicated tranche of funds for Medicaid-dependent providers?
- How does HHS plan to release such funds to Medicaid-dependent providers?
- What level of funding does HHS plan to dedicate to Medicaid-dependent providers to ensure a meaningful and equitable distribution?
- What factors contributed to HHS waiting until May 1 to request Medicaid-dependent provider information from states?
- What factors have contributed to the delays in disbursing funds to Medicaid-dependent providers, and how has HHS been working to resolve them as expeditiously as possible to ensure the timely release of funds?
ANCOR eagerly awaits the Department’s responses to these questions, and remains unwavering in its commitment to mobilizing advocates to demand that community-based disability services are no longer left behind by the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about ANCOR’s federal COVID-19 advocacy efforts, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.
For 50 years, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ancor.org) has been a leading advocate for the critical role service providers play in enriching the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). As a national nonprofit trade association, ANCOR represents 1,600+ organizations employing more than a half-million professionals who together serve more than a million individuals with I/DD. Our mission is to advance the ability of our members to support people with I/DD to fully participate in their communities.