On Friday, in the face of the coronavirus’ devastating effect on the disability community, ANCOR sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar reiterating our March 31 request that HHS allocate to Medicaid disability services a portion of funds granted by Congress to address the coronavirus. Specifically, Congress charged HHS with distributing funds from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund created by the CARES Act.
The fund is currently set at $100 billion and ANCOR is requesting just under $8.3 billion to address the shortage of Direct Support Professionals who are on the frontlines of fighting the outbreak in the disability community. This funding will also be critical to retaining key community services, such as day and employment services, so that they are available to individuals after the crisis. HHS has begun distributing a portion of this fund but questions remain on its overall decision-making process – learn more here.
The broader context: HHS is making decisions on how to deploy these funds as state governments are becoming increasingly vocal about significant difficulties they are encountering as they seek to:
Keep essential Medicaid supports afloat. Politico Pro reported governors are asking for federal funding to provide retainer payments to Medicaid providers to prevent those supports from collapsing. While the article focused on supports for behavioral and substance disorders, it noted that Governor Ducey of Arizona requested and received permission to give retainer payments to Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) providers.
Cover unemployment claims – including updating antiquated administrative systems to meet record demand. With over 17 million people in the United States losing their jobs, Politico reported that “state unemployment agencies and the Department of Labor are struggling to process record-breaking claims, causing delays for laid-off workers anxious to receive their checks.”
Pay for testing: As reported by Politico: “The federal government wants states to consider taking control of drive-through coronavirus testing sites, currently run by HHS and FEMA, that have tested more than 77,000 people to date. NPR first reported Thursday morning that officials in several communities home to testing sites are worried they will lose needed supplies and funding as a result of the proposed transition plan. But an HHS spokesperson told POLITICO the federal government will continue to operate the sites if governors request such assistance.”
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