Interim Coronavirus Bill Could Advance This Week; Other Package Under Development

The House and Senate could vote this week on a new coronavirus aid package that is being negotiated by the White House and Congressional negotiators. Initial reports of the deal include $300 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing. Meanwhile, Congressional leaders continue work on another package that could be voted on in early May. The Arc’s priorities for that measure include:

•        Grants to support access to home and community-based services (to minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions) and to support the direct support professional (DSP) workforce

•        Personal Protective Equipment for DSPs

•        Paid leave and sick days for family caregivers of adults with disabilities

•       Economic impact payments for all people with disabilities, including adult dependents

Congress Weighs Fourth Coronavirus Bill

This week, Congressional leaders continue to consider a possible fourth coronavirus response package and what should be included in it. The Arc’s priorities include:

  • Grants to support access to home and community-based services (to minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions) and to support the direct support professional (DSP) workforce
  • Personal protective equipment for DSPs
  • Paid leave and sick days for family caregivers of adults with disabilities
  • Allowing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients to receive their Recovery Rebates without filing needless paperwork

Read The Arc’s blog for more information.

Congress Approves COVID-19 Stimulus Package

Last week, both houses of Congress approved and President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion bill to address the economic and other impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. The final bill addresses some priorities of the disability community by allowing non-profit organizations that serve people with I/DD to receive small business loan assistance, allowing direct support professionals (DSPs) to accompany people they support in hospitals, extending the Money Follows the Person program, and providing additional funds for education (which can be used for special education) and housing. However, the bill missed the mark by failing to include more funding for home and community based services, address the shortage of medical equipment or DSPs, or fund paid time off for family caregivers of people with disabilities. Furthermore, while people receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be eligible for recovery rebates without risk of losing their benefits, the bill requires them to files taxes, regardless of income level. Learn more about recovery rebates here. Read The Arc’s statement.

Medicaid/LTSS: HCBS Infrastructure Improvement Act Introduced in Senate

On February 12, Senator Robert P. Casey (D-PA) introduced the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Infrastructure Improvement Act (S.3277). This bill provides seven-year grants to states to improve the Home and Community Based Services systems by doing at least three of the following:

  • Increasing the availability of housing;
  • Expanding transportation options;
  • Increasing wages, benefits, and support for direct support professionals;
  • Expanding competitive integrated employment; and
  • Building no-wrong-door application, referral, and counseling systems.

The Arc supports this legislation. Learn more.

Medicaid: House Passes Resolution Expressing Disapproval of Medicaid Block Grant Proposal

On February 6, the House of Representatives passed H.Res.826, expressing disapproval of the Administration’s Medicaid block grant guidance. The non-binding resolution calls on the administration to withdraw the guidance, stating that it is illegal and harmful to beneficiaries. Under this guidance, states would be allowed to restrict eligibility, provide limited health care benefits, reduce access to prescription drugs, impose burdensome work requirements, and make other changes that are detrimental to Medicaid beneficiaries. Many people with disabilities, including people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD), are part of the Medicaid expansion population and could be directly impacted. Read The Arc’s statement.

Medicaid: CMS Releases New Block Grant Guidance

On January 30, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new guidance allowing states to cap their federal Medicaid funding for the low-income adult population in exchange for greater flexibility to limit coverage. States would be allowed to restrict eligibility, provide limited health care benefits, reduce access to prescription drugs, impose burdensome work requirements, and make other changes that are detrimental to Medicaid beneficiaries. This guidance does not appear to directly impact the portion of the Medicaid program that funds home and community-based services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). However, many people with disabilities, including people with I/DD, are part of the Medicaid expansion population and could be directly impacted. Read The Arc’s statement.

Medicaid/LTSS: Congress Approves MFP Extension

Late last month, Congress approved and President Trump signed a five-month extension of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (H.R.1865). However, Congress did not approve a permanent reauthorization. MFP has helped more than 90,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities move out of nursing homes and institutions. Independent evaluations have shown that MFP improves the quality of life for individuals and has reduced Medicaid and Medicare expenditures by approximately 23%. Learn more about MFP here and read The Arc’s statement.

TAKE ACTION! TODAY Is National Call-In Day for MFP Reauthorization

On December 16, advocates are holding a national call-in day to urge Congress to pass a permanent Money Follows the Person (MFP) reauthorization before funding runs out at the end of the year. On December 6, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced a bipartisan agreement to permanently reauthorize MFP as part of the larger Drug Pricing and Healthcare Extenders Package. MFP has helped more than 90,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities move out of nursing homes and institutions. Independent evaluations have shown that MFP improves the quality of life for individuals and has reduced Medicaid and Medicare expenditures by approximately 23%. Learn more about MFP here.

Take action here! To learn more about the call-in day, please visit the Facebook event page or the Center for Public Representation’s website

Medicaid/LTSS: Senators Announce Bipartisan Agreement to Permanently Reauthorize MFP

On December 6, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced a bipartisan agreement to permanently reauthorize the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program and Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) spousal impoverishment protections as part of the larger Drug Pricing and Healthcare Extenders Package. MFP has helped more than 90,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities move out of nursing homes and institutions. Independent evaluations have shown that MFP improves the quality of life for individuals and has reduced Medicaid and Medicare expenditures by approximately 23%. The spousal impoverishment protection allows the spouse of a person receiving Medicaid HCBS to maintain a modest amount of income and resources for food, rent, and medication. Read The Arc’s statement here.