May 8, 2020
The Senate came back to Washington this week, but isn't focused on ensuring Medicaid-funded disability services receive critical funding that will enable them to stay afloat through and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Please take two minutes today to make sure the pandemic's #ForgottenFaces are overlooked no more as Congress gets back to work.
its priority needs to be ensuring federal relief dollars reach Medicaid-funded providers of long-term supports and services to constituents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
It is unacceptable that these supports keep being overlooked.
Now that the Senate has returned to Washington and is resuming negotiations with the House, it is essential that members of Congress speak up and pressure the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to disburse emergency funds to providers of disability supports. We have heard that while the House and Senate will be working on a fourth COVID-19 legislative package, it may not even be be considered until June. Medicaid-funded I/DD supports cannot wait that long for relief, so Congress must take steps now to ensure these services be included in distributions of Public Health & Social Services Emergency Relief funding. The allocation of these funds, already appropriated by Congress, will enable providers to:
- Stabilize supports so they can be maintained during the crisis.
- Preserve essential community supports currently suspended due to social isolation so they can reopen after the crisis has subsided.
- Supercharge staff stabilization activities, including efforts to recruit and retain direct support professionals.
Specifically, HHS is responsible for distributing funding from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund created by the CARES Act, which to date has been appropriated $175 billion. Of that total $175 billion, HHS distributed or committed about $82 billion to Medicare providers. Meanwhile, not a single penny has been committed to Medicaid-funded I/DD providers. While HHS was supposed to announce a new tranche of funding last week, it failed to do so.
Now more than ever, Congress needs to exercise its oversight authority and pressure HHS to do right by Medicaid disability services. This is critical for the life and well-being of people with disabilities and the staff who support them.