The State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2022

The longstanding direct support workforce crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to closures of critically needed services and a denial of access to community-based supports.
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Capitol Correspondence - 04.12.21

Today: Ask Your Members of Congress to Join a Letter Urging CMS to Expand Pandemic Retainer Payments

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Responding to advocacy from ANCOR and its advocates, four U.S. Representatives are circulating a sign-on letter among their peers to urge the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to grants states more flexibility on how long they offer pandemic retainer payments to Medicaid disability supports that cannot bill for services because of social distancing guidelines. The leads for this letter are U.S. Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and John Katko (R-NY). We encourage advocates to use this template email to ask their congressional delegations to sign onto this letter by the deadline of tomorrow, April 14, 2021.

Why this matters: While many states have requested and subsequently received approval from CMS to provide retainer payments (reimbursements to providers when they are temporarily unable to deliver routine services) due to COVID-19, CMS currently limits the timeframe in which states can utilize this option to three 30-day periods and 90 days total. CMS has the authority to extend these limits and doing so will ensure that states whose HCBS provider networks remain at risk of dissolution or collapse can continue providing these retainer payments with available funds if they choose.

Many of these HCBS providers are small, community-based groups that operate on extremely thin margins and receive nearly all of their funding through Medicaid. Action by CMS to extend these limits would not require states to provide retainer payments, and guardrails within the program would ensure that federal support is not duplicated, as recipients of retainer payments must attest that they are not receiving funding from other sources in excess of past revenues.