Capitol Correspondence - 03.17.20

Snapshot: The Federal Policy Response to COVID-19 to Date

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In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, ANCOR is identifying needs specific to people with disabilities and the providers who support them, and sharing policy solutions with lawmakers. Despite the policymaking environment for the virus changing by the hour, we are monitoring the different forms of policymaking in which Congress, the White House and federal agencies are engaging around the coronavirus, and speaking up on what people with disabilities and the providers who support them need in these confusing times. Read on to see what actions policymakers are taking, what this means for I/DD supports, and what ANCOR is doing.

The President: On Friday the President declared a national emergency over the virus, which under the Stafford Act will release billions of dollars in aid for states and localities to respond.

  • Specific to disability services, this means that states can now request changes to their Medicaid program to respond to the virus, through section 1115 and 1135 waivers. This is in addition to states’ existing capacity to request ad hoc changes to their 1915 c waivers through processes detailed in appendix K.
  • ANCOR members are encouraged to look at resources staff posted in the ANCOR Connected Community for more information on how to prepare for the virus and what to advocate for at all levels of government to ensure continuity of supports.

The President also issued guidelines recommending that people not gather in groups larger than 10.

Congress: Congress has cancelled its recess week to work on an additional funding / economic stimulus package. The House of Representatives passed a second package, in addition to the one that became law earlier this month, focusing heavily on making paid leave available to all employees nationwide to prevent them from getting sick or spreading the disease. The bill also includes a 6.2 percent FMAP bump to states to help with virus response. The Senate is considering this legislation with a stimulus package that the President has been seeking, though there are rumors of separate Senate packages also in the works.

  • ANCOR is requesting Congress to include funding specifically for disability supports in any new funding package. Please join us in making sure Congress understand disability supports are a key component of disability health services – use our email action tool to directly message Congressional offices.
  • Read more about the House bill here.
  • Through its leadership role on the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities’ (CCD) Long-Term Supports and Services Task Force, ANCOR also signed onto a letter to Senate leadership to heed the needs of people with disabilities in this time of crisis.

Federal agencies: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued an FAQ document specific to flexibilities within Medicaid and CHIP in times of public health emergencies. ANCOR has identified oversights that affect the disability community in this guidance and are communicating them both to CMS and Congress, which oversees CMS.

States: The state of Florida became the first to submit an 1135 waiver to request flexibilities in its Medicaid program. CMS has approved the waiver.

Big Picture: As identified by Politico Pro, here are four topics sure to be on policymakers’ minds:

  • As testing ramps up, how widespread will cases be?
  • Will the Administration show greater cohesion across its efforts?
  • Will this spur a financial crisis?
  • Will Congress be able to work on a response in a bipartisan manner?