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Washington, DC Update 3/2/23
Legislative Updates
Both the Senate and the house are back in session and have begun the March legislative work period.
Unwinding of PHE & Medicaid Continuous Coverage
CMS: New Fact Sheet on Waivers, Flexibilities and Transition
As part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) ongoing efforts to provide up-to-date information to prepare for the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, which is expected on May, 11, 2023, CMS is providing a new overview fact sheet on CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the Transition Forward from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

This fact sheet provides clarity on several topics, including:
  • COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments;
  • Telehealth services; and
  • Health care access.

Also, CMS published related updates about how the Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Marketplace programs will be affected at the end of the PHE.

In the coming weeks, CMS will be hosting stakeholder calls and office hours to provide additional information. Visit the CMS Emergencies Page for continuous updates about PHE sunsetting guidance as information becomes available to the public.

CMS: Language Access and Unwinding of PHE
To ensure that information about the ending of the COVID-19 PHE is accessible for people with Medicaid/CHIP coverage who have limited English proficiency or disabilities, CMS released information and resources to states about current language access requirements.

Blog: Updated Navigator Resource Guide
Many people who are expected to lose Medicaid during the unwinding of continuous enrollment will be eligible for free or low-cost plans through the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplaces but will need to take steps to sign up and avoid disruptions in coverage and care access. To help consumers and enrollment assisters during this nationwide coverage event, the Georgetown Center on Health Insurance Reforms updated their Navigator Resource Guide with new content about transitioning between Medicaid and private health insurance. Links to FAQs and other resources can be found in the CHIR blog.
From the Administration
ICYMI: 2023 Federal Poverty Level Standards
Last month, the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) released an informational bulletin on updated 2023 federal poverty level standards. These standards are an important piece of eligibility criteria for programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

SSA: Proposed Rule Omitting Food from In-Kind Support and Maintenance Calculations
The Social Security Administration (SSA) released a proposed rule that would no longer consider food expenses when calculating in-kind support and maintenance to determine benefits for people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSA reduces the amount of SSI for which an individual is eligible based on the in-kind support and maintenance they receive.
An SSI applicant or beneficiary receives in-kind support and maintenance when someone else provides or contributes towards their food or shelter. In those cases, the SSA considers how much someone else is contributing to that person’s food or shelter costs when determining that person’s SSI benefits. Removing food from in-kind support and maintenance calculations would simplify benefit calculations for many low-income people with disabilities and older adults who receive SSI and would lower or eliminate benefit reductions for some.
In-kind support and maintenance benefit calculations vary depending on whether someone lives on their own but receives help from someone else with food and shelter costs or lives with someone else and receives food and shelter from that person or other members of the household. SSA proposes to keep food-related questions only for the purposes of determining which category someone falls into, not for the purposes of determining someone’s benefits. SSA is soliciting comments on alternative ways to make this determination. SSA also seeks comments on how to make the rule easier to understand.
Comments can be submitted online or by fax or mail until April 17, 2023.

CMS: Updated COVID-19 Medicaid & CHIP Service Utilization Data Snapshot
CMS released an updated snapshot, which provides information on COVID-19 related service utilization by beneficiaries, including data on COVID-19 testing, treatment, services delivered via telehealth, and services for mental health and substance use disorders. Preliminary data suggest that during the public health emergency (PHE), among all age groups, the rate of services delivered through telehealth during the PHE remain high but have generally declined since April 2020. 

HRSA: Office for the Advancement of Telehealth Outcome Measures 
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) requested to extend the approval of the Office for Advancement of Telehealth outcome measures that are currently set to expire on October 31, 2023. The performance measures help evaluate the effectiveness of the Telehealth Network Grant Program services and monitor their progress using performance reporting data. Measures for the Telehealth Network Grant Program capture awardee-level and aggregate data that illustrate the impact and scope of federal funding along with assessing these efforts. You can find more information here.

ACL: New Center for I/DD who have Mental Health Conditions
Through a cooperative agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), the Administration for Community Living has launched a new center to improve support for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) who have mental health conditions. This center will focus on capacity building by supporting state agencies with policy development, service design, and service coordination resources. Guided by people with lived experience, the center also will provide information, training, and peer-to-peer learning for people with I/DD who have mental health conditions, their families, and the professionals who work with them.
The center is currently recruiting for its steering committee, which will make important recommendations on how the center should move forward. The steering committee of 12 people will meet 4 times per year. Steering committee members and, if needed, their support staff will be paid to participate in this project.
recruitment explainer video by NASDDDS partner Green Mountain Self-Advocates is posted on the NASDDDS YouTube channel. The three-minute video includes open captions and American Sign Language interpretation. If you are interested in joining the committee, email snonnemacher@nasddds.org, call 570-460-3964, or fill out the interest form by March 17, 2023.

White House: Fact Sheet

HRSA: Health Equity in Telehealth 
The HRSA Office for Advancement of Telehealth released a web page on health equity in telehealth that includes resources with best practices on how telehealth can improve health care for underserved patients.

FEMA: Feedback Sought Equitable Recovery
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is seeking feedback from whole community partners on the draft of Achieving Equitable Recovery: A Post-Disaster Guide for Local Officials (Equity Guide). The goal of the guide is to help local officials incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in their post-disaster recovery management work. Successful disaster recovery requires the whole community to rebuild in a thoughtful, equitable, and resilient manner. The current open comment period will end on Wednesday, March 15. To provide comments or recommendations to the draft equity guide, use the comment matrix and email FEMA-CA-RSF@fema.dhs.gov no later than 5 PM ET on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

FEMA will host a 60-minute webinar session to provide an overview of the draft of Achieving Equitable Recovery: A Post-Disaster Guide for Local Officials (Equity Guide) and gather feedback from whole community partners. The sessions will include facilitated discussions with stakeholders to help improve the existing draft. To attend the webinar, register in advance by clicking one of the links below:

March 13 | 10 AM ET

CMS Health Equity Conference
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will host its inaugural CMS Health Equity Conference at Howard University in Washington, DC on June 7-8, 2023 and streamed virtually for online participation. The two-day, free conference will convene leaders in health equity from federal agencies, health provider organizations, academia, community-based organizations, and others, both in person and virtually. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to hear from CMS’s leadership on recent developments and updates on CMS programs; find out about up-to-date research on health equity; discuss promising practices and innovate solutions and collaborate on community engagement efforts.

Academics, researchers, community organizations, and others are encouraged to submit presentation proposals by April 14th, and early submissions are encouraged. Projects must be piloting or researching health equity solutions that align with the CMS Framework for Health Equity 2022-2032 priority areas. Key research findings and projects will be highlighted at the conference. 

Information and guidelines for submitting proposals can be found on the conference website. CMS will also be hosting a webinar on submitting proposals on March 16th from 12-1pm EDT. Register for the webinar here.

Thank you for subscribing to the Washington, DC Update newsletter. Please feel free to contact the Family Voices Public Policy and Advocacy consultant, Cara Coleman, with any questions. Past issues of the Update appear on the Family Voices website. If you wish to unsubscribe, you can do so via the "Unsubscribe" link below.

Family Voices is a national organization and grassroots network of families and friends of children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities that promotes partnership with families--including those of cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity--in order to improve healthcare services and policies for children.