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Capitol Correspondence - 03.16.21

Roundup: New Proposals, Guidance, Events and More from HHS, MACPAC, DOL, SSA and FCC

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So that our members can stay abreast of changes to the regulatory environment in which they operate, we flag developments from federal agencies relevant to Medicaid disability providers.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its vaccine toolkit – and plans to do so again once it is done analyzing the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed by Congress last week.
  • CMS also updated guidance for nursing homes, including on visitation.
  • A coalition of health groups is suing HHS to stop the “Sunset Rule,” a rule finalized by the Trump administration right before the Biden administration took office and which is set to take effect on March 22. As reported by Politico Pulse: “The Biden administration is expected to ax the policy. But that looming start date has the coalition seeking a more immediate legal resolution, with the groups estimating that more than 17,000 regulations would be scheduled to expire in 2026 alone.”
  • In a separate lawsuit, the Biden administration is requesting that the Supreme Court dismiss a case related to the public charge rule, as the rule is under a regulatory freeze and review, with the expectation that the administration will revoke it. As reported by Politico Pro Transition: “The request likely brings an end to the lengthy battle over one of the previous administration’s signature hardline immigration policies — one that advocates reported had a chilling effect on immigrants’ use of safety net programs, even as it only took effect for a short time last year.” ANCOR opposed the public charge rule due to potential consequences for immigrants with disabilities and their families.
  • The Supreme Court cancelled a hearing on legal challenges on Medicaid work requirements, but did not dismiss the case. As reported by Politico Pro: “The Biden administration two weeks ago called on the justices to throw out the case, shortly after notifying states it planned to revoke work rules. However, Arkansas — one of the two states involved in the pending case — hasn’t yet given up on the lawsuit.”

Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC):

MACPAC’s March 2021 report is now available. Of relevance to the disability community, the report includes recommendations on:

  • Automatic countercyclical financing for states during economic downturns (chapter 1).
  • Easing the burden on beneficiaries posed by the Medicaid estate recovery program (chapter 3). ANCOR has joined efforts recommending the elimination of this program.
  • Integrating care for individuals who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare (chapter 4).

Department of Labor (DOL):

  • DOL’s Wage and Hour Division announced proposals to rescind two rules: the independent contractor rule, and the joint employer rule.
  • DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “issued new temporary rules to curb Covid-19 spread in the workplace, setting a collision course with the growing number of states loosening restrictions on businesses to aid their reopening,” Politico Pro reports. See the OSHA announcement, which links to the rules, here.

Social Security Administration (SSA):

SSA is requesting help from the public to widely educate potential and current beneficiaries on Social Security Income and Social Security Disability Income programs. It invites the public to join it for a national conference call to learn how organizations can help the agency deliver critical financial assistance to vulnerable populations during COVID-19.  The call is scheduled for Thursday, March 25, 2021, from 1-2:00 pm EDT. Register here.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC):

The FCC released a Report and Order that established the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, a $3.2 billion federal initiative to help lower the cost of high-speed internet for eligible households during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. ANCOR previously notified members of the opportunity to comment on this proposal, which has now been finalized. As stated in an FCC email notification: “The program will provide two benefits:  a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband services for eligible households (and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands), and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider if the household contributes $10-$50 toward the purchase price.  The FCC expects that purchased devices will ‘be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.’  The FCC expects that the program will be open to eligible households by the end of April.” Learn more through: