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Connections - 09.30.21

It May Be Getting Cooler Outside, But ANCOR’s Government Relations Team is On Fire!

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Here in Washington, we’re finally enjoying some relief from the heat and humidity of the summer. But as the crisp autumn air moves in, things are heating up on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, your Government Relations team has been on fire, working on a number of fronts to stabilize our direct support workforce. This article shares some highlights about what the GR team has been up to these days.

We’re Bringing the Pressure on Reconciliation

As you know by now, the GR team has been advocating relentlessly to ensure that proposed funding for the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program is preserved in the reconciliation package currently being negotiated on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce released its recommendations for the budget resolution, which included a provision of $190 billion in funding for HCBS. The bill would increase the FMAP—the federal match percentage rate—by seven percent. The Committee passed the measure by a vote of 30-27; however, the committee’s proposal is only a starting point for negotiations between the House and Senate over what will ultimately be included in the final reconciliation. We are hopeful that our Senate champions, including those who are co-sponsors of the Better Care Better Jobs Act, will continue to push for increased funding, though only time will tell.

That $190 billion proposal, by the way, falls far short of the $400 billion proposed by President Biden in his Build Back Better agenda and, more importantly, is not enough for states to meaningfully invest in the direct care workforce or effectively expand access to services for people with I/DD. That is why ANCOR continues to lead the way in urging members of Congress to increase funding for HCBS to the full extent initially proposed by President Biden. We have been meeting with members of Congress and their staff, coordinating letters and meetings from our members, and issuing action alerts generating thousands of messages from our members to their elected officials. We have also just released our new brief, The State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2021, which summarizes the key findings from our recent provider survey and shines a light on how the pandemic is amplifying the worst impacts of the workforce crisis.

ANCOR will continue to advocate for as much funding as possible for HCBS in the budget reconciliation package, and will keep ANCOR members apprised of opportunities to take action to advance this legislation.

We’re Keeping a Watchful Eye on Forthcoming Vaccine Regulations

In addition to ANCOR’s leadership in advocating for HCBS funding in Congress, we continue to await further details on the President’s direction to require vaccinations for workers in health care settings that receive Medicaid funding and for employers with 100 or more employees. The White House has directed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to issue regulations to provide more details. ANCOR will update members when these regulations are published and will continue to solicit feedback from you in order to provide comprehensive comments to the Biden administration during the rulemaking process.

We’ve Got an Impressive Lineup for Next Month’s Virtual Policy Summit

The 2021 Policy Summit is just around the corner, but it’s not too late to register!

The theme of this year’s Summit, If Not Now, When? Developing Solutions for a Workforce in Crisis, acknowledges the significant crisis facing people with I/DD and their families as the direct support workforce crisis collides with the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic.

The Summit will take place on Tuesday, October 12 and Wednesday, October 13, and both days will feature three sessions scheduled between 1 and 4:30 pm EDT. By registering for the Summit, you’ll not only get access to all of the session recordings, but you’ll also unlock free access to a post-Summit bonus session unveiling our new minimum wage study—the date for which will be announced soon.

In case you were wondering, our lineup of speakers is among the best we’ve ever convened. Among the highlights, you’ll hear from:

  • Ai-jen Poo, renowned thought leader and founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
  • Daniel Tsai, Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services at CMS.
  • Jessica Schubel, Director of the Affordable Care Act and Health Policy for the White House Domestic Policy Council.

We’ll also be sharing a ton of compelling new data to fuel your advocacy efforts. On Tuesday, ANCOR will present data from its 2021 direct support workforce crisis survey, and on Wednesday, Amy Hewitt (Director of the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota) and Valerie Bradley (Founder & President Emerita at the Human Services Research Institute) will walk us through the results of their 2020 survey of direct support professionals.

With so much excitement packed into two afternoons, you won’t want to miss a moment. Make your way to the Summit website and complete your registration today!

We’re Shaking Up Our Team

[From Sean] We have been thrilled to welcome Elise as ANCOR’s first Director of Advocacy earlier this month. In case you haven’t noticed, she’s hit the ground running, mobilizing thousands of advocates to take action on the need for HCBS funding in the reconciliation package. One day, ANCOR will convene in person and you’ll have the chance to formally meet her. In the meantime, we know you’ll be as impressed by her as we are.

[From Elise] I can’t be the newest member of the team forever, so it’s time for us to start hiring again! We’re in the market for a new Director of Federal Relations to lead ANCOR’s legislative and administrative lobbying efforts. Might you be the newest member of our team? Or, might you know someone looking to make a big impact in the I/DD services community? If so, view and share the position description today!

Elise Aguilar is Director of Advocacy for ANCOR. Sean Luechtefeld is Senior Director, Communications for ANCOR.