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Capitol Correspondence - 03.24.20

Congressional Autism Caucus Requests COVID-19 Emergency Funding for HCBS

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ANCOR was grateful to see that as co-chairs of the Congressional Autism Caucus, U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Chris Smith (R-NY) urged congressional leadership in a letter to include Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) in any COVID-19 emergency funding legislation. As written in the letter:

“As Co-Chairs of the Congressional Autism Caucus, we have heard from constituents and families of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities who are scared and struggling. While all Americans are facing unprecedented challenges, individuals with disabilities and their families often face additional burdens and needs. These individuals and families may face a severe ‘services cliff’ without any warning or preparation as daily services they rely on have suddenly become unavailable. As such, we are requesting that steps be taken to protect individuals with disabilities and their families going forward. Specifically, we recommend increasing funding for Home and Community-based Services (HCBS), grants to support transitioning Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) services into homes, and expanding telehealth.

Increased funding for Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) is needed to help support people with autism in their homes and communities. HCBS dollars will ensure staff are available to help support people with autism who are quarantined or practicing social distancing and will help communities respond to and prevent the further spread of COVID. Specifically, we urge inclusion of an additional 15% increased FMAP for HCBS serving people with autism and other developmental disabilities. States need these additional, new dollars to minimize waiting lists for HCBS and to provide wage increases as well as overtime pay and paid sick, medical and family leave to home health workers. This increase should allow states broad flexibility to use HCBS in a variety of ways but should focus on include increasing services available, increasing provider payment rates and supporting emergency enrollment.”