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Capitol Correspondence - 05.19.20

Seven U.S. Senators Send ANCOR-Led Letter to HHS on COVID-19 Funding for Medicaid Providers

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Following advocacy by ANCOR and its members, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led a congressional sign-on letter addressed to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), urging it to include Medicaid disability providers in funding disbursements from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. To date, Medicaid providers have not been included in any disbursements from the Fund, which was created by the CARES Act to help frontline health supports combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to Senators Ernst and Hassan, the letter was signed by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Christopher Murphy (D-CT) and Tina Smith (D-MN).

As written in the letter:

“The situation these providers confront is extremely challenging. In a recent survey of over 1,600 community providers serving individuals with intellectual / developmental disabilities (I/DD) conducted by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), 68% of respondents reported having had to close one or more service lines, resulting in a 32% average loss of revenue. Additionally, 52% of all organizations surveyed reported having increased staff overtime expenses. On average, respondents reported an additional $28,000 in monthly expenses (e.g., PPE, cleaning supplies, etc.).

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are confronting equipment shortages of every kind including masks, face shields, gloves and gowns. Further, assisting people with disabilities with activities of daily living – dressing, bathing, toileting – often makes it impossible for staff to ‘social distance.’ An additional survey conducted by ANCOR highlights the challenges: 62% of I/DD providers stopped taking new referrals and/or were closing programs while state stay-at-home orders are exacerbating staff turnover rates well in excess of 50%. The vast majority of ANCOR providers had less than three (3) months of cash reserves.

As you know, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) included $100 billion in funding for the PHSSEF. Subsequently, Congress provided an additional $75 billion for the PHSSEF through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. However, we are concerned that Medicaid providers of services to persons with disabilities have largely been excluded from HHS’ provider allocations thus far.”