Capitol Correspondence - 05.21.20

Ask Congress to Tell HHS that Medicaid Disability Providers Can’t Wait Any Longer for Funds

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Thanks to your advocacy, the House passed the HEROES Act on Friday, which includes critical resources for disability service providers. However, these provisions have a long way to go before becoming law. Medicaid programs need these provisions to be included in the final bill, and they can’t wait any longer—services are on the verge of running out of funds.

Please take two minutes today to insist that your members of Congress pressure the Trump administration to immediately release funding for Medicaid-funded disability supports.

The Ask
Tell Congress to demand that federal relief dollars reach Medicaid-funded providers of long-term supports and services to constituents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). More than 70 days into the pandemic, the federal government has not designated a single dollar of emergency relief specifically for Medicaid-funded disability providers.

The Details

We anticipate that the HEROES Act—which passed along party lines in the House—will look significantly different once it works its way through the Republican-controlled Senate. But even if the Senate preserves all of the HEROES Act’s provisions (and we’re taking steps to ensure it does), it could still be late fall by the time that funding reaches providers, who needed the relief when this crisis began in early March.

Currently, the Senate is reviewing the HEROES Act and negotiating with House leadership, meaning it could be July before the Senate votes. Therefore, any new funding streams created by the bill, if it passes, might not take effect until October or even later. Medicaid-funded I/DD supports cannot wait that long for relief, especially given that cash reserves are low and federal loan dollars are running out. Many providers are already confronting difficult staffing and program decisions—if not closing outright.

Given this tenuous situation, Congress must take steps NOW to ensure disability services are funded by the Public Health & Social Services Emergency Fund. The allocation of these funds, already appropriated by Congress, will enable providers to:

  1. Stabilize supports so they can be maintained during the crisis.
  2. Preserve essential community supports currently suspended due to social isolation so they can reopen after the crisis has subsided.
  3. Supercharge staff stabilization activities, including efforts to recruit and retain direct support professionals.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is responsible for distributing funding from the Emergency Fund, which was initially created by the CARES Act. To date, HHS has distributed or committed about $82 billion of the $175 billion appropriated so far, but the vast majority of those dollars have gone to Medicare providers. Meanwhile, not a single penny from the Fund has been committed to Medicaid-funded I/DD providers.

The relative bright spot is that your advocacy is working. With your support, ANCOR led a bipartisan group of seven U.S. Senators to write a letter to HHS demanding that emergency relief go to Medicaid-funded I/DD providers.

This is a step in the right direction, but we still need your support. Now is a strategic time to lend your voice because the House has already taken its action, meaning it has the time to focus on exercising its oversight authority, and the Senate is now starting to consider these issues, which means Senators are eager to hear from constituents. By reminding your members of Congress of the need for this funding, you will lay crucial groundwork that will strengthen ANCOR’s efforts to get the House to sign onto a similar letter. Speak up to show Congress that it must keep the pressure on HHS to do right by Medicaid disability services.

People with I/DD and the Medicaid providers on which they rely have been the pandemic’s #ForgottenFaces, and people are dying as a result. Federal action is critical for the life and well-being of people with disabilities and the staff who support them. Thank you for taking action today to ensure the #ForgottenFaces are forgotten no more.