Capitol Correspondence - 01.05.21

As COVID-19 Relief Legislation Becomes Law, Some Wins & Some Losses for Disability Community

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On December 27, President Trump signed a bill into law which combined remaining fiscal year 2021 spending with another coronavirus relief package and other provisions, avoiding a government shutdown before the December 28 deadline.

This Axios article gives a breakdown of some of the larger COVID-19 relief items in the legislation, including an additional $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program on which many ANCOR members relied during the pandemic. Although not addressed by the article, the legislation also increased funding for the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund by $3 billion. Unfortunately, the legislation does not include increased funding for states and localities, which means Medicaid programs will be under fiscal pressure as state budgets near their breaking points. We are further disappointed that the package did not include provisions for which the disability community advocated, seeking to strengthen the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services program during the pandemic.

On the bright side, ANCOR is pleased that the legislation includes a three-year renewal of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program, which helps individuals voluntarily move out of institutional facilities and into the community. The program, which has long been a priority for ANCOR, had survived on a series of three- to six-month renewals since it expired in 2018. As a result of the fiscal uncertainty this caused for the program, many states had discontinued participation in the MFP program during the pandemic, making the three-year renewal an important victory for the disability community.

As we begin our policy work in 2021, we will keep members informed of opportunities to advocate on behalf of the Medicaid program during the pandemic.