Capitol Correspondence - 04.28.20

Federal COVID-19 Emergency Fund – Status and Next Steps

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To ensure people with disabilities and the people who support them are protected during the coronavirus outbreak, ANCOR is ramping up existing efforts demanding that the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) cease overlooking of Medicaid disability supports as it distributes emergency health funding. Specifically, we are focusing on being included in distributions from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, which Congress created and funded with $100 billion through the CARES Act.

Where the $100 billion fund is at now: Over the course of April, HHS allocated (but is still in the process of distributing) just over $80 billion of that funding in a series of “tranches.” While Congress has oversight of the Emergency Fund, it gave HHS broad freedom to distribute the funds as HHS saw fit. The primary recipients of HHS’ distributions have been Medicare providers, who received $50 billion in two tranches. An additional $10 billion each will be used for helping uninsured individuals, rural hospitals, and hospitals in coronavirus “hotspots.” $400 million will go to the Indian Health Service. HHS has not yet allocated the remaining roughly $20 billion left in the Emergency Fund – though it is expected to announce eligible groups soon, possibly this week.

Replenishing the fund: On Thursday, Congress passed interim COVID-19 legislation to replenish the Emergency Fund, as well as the Paycheck Protection Program that supports small businesses with loans. The Emergency Fund will receive an additional $75 billion to help tide health supports over until Congress comes to an agreement on a much more contentious fourth large COVID-19 funding package. HHS will have the same leeway to decide where funding goes as it did with the first $100 billion. Negotiations on the fourth large package are expected to continue possibly through Memorial Day weekend in late May.

Action step: Use ANCOR’s email action tool to urge Congress to direct HHS to include Medicaid disability supports in any upcoming funding tranche from the Emergency Fund – it is unacceptable to keep overlooking these vital supports.